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15 February 2013

Additional lions introduced to Karoo National Park

An additional two male lions were introduced into the Karoo National Park on 7 February 2013.

Kalahari's black-maned lion, black-maned lion, lion A majestic male black-maned lion.

The decision was made to introduce the two three-year-old male lions into the Karoo to prevent inbreeding as a result of an island effect (no migration of other lion individuals into or out of the population), and to increase genetic diversity in the park. – Nico van der Walt, park manager, Karoo National Park

Earlier this month, two male lions from The Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park were released into the Karoo National Park, bringing the number of lions in the park to a total of nine.

The Karoo National Park is situated outside Beaufort West in the Western Cape and has a variety of endemic wildlife.

The lions, named Niklaas and Witwarm, were released into the eastern section of the park, where they are likely to develop their territories. They had been housed in a temporary enclosure in the park since their arrival from the Kgalagadi in November last year, in order to adapt to their new environment.

In 2010, a small population of lions were introduced into the Karoo National Park from Addo Elephant National Park.

Park manager, Nico van der Walt, says, ‘The decision was made to introduce the two three-year-old male lions into the Karoo to prevent inbreeding as a result of an island effect (no migration of other lion individuals into or out of the population), and to increase genetic diversity in the park.’

Van der Walt points out that the introduction of predators into the Karoo National Park is part of an attempt to restore and re-establish the process of predation. ‘This will help to control herbivore numbers naturally and decrease the need for capturing and culling, which is in line with the SANParks' “minimum interference philosophy”.’

Kgalagadi lions are known for their impressive dark brown or black manes, and the introduction of Niklaas and Witwarm can only add to the eco-tourism value of the Karoo National Park.

‘Introducing more lions into the park has an economic spinoff as it improves the eco-tourism value of the area, as large carnivores are charismatic species which people like to see, or even merely to know are present in an area,’ says van der Walt.