Sylvester the Lion being moved to Addo National Park: SANParks

APRIL 12, 2016

South African National Parks (SANParks) on Tuesday announced that it will be relocating the lion, famously called Sylvester the Lion, which escaped from Karoo National Park at the end of March to the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP).

The lion will be moved into a boma within an existing 200ha enclosure in the Kuzuko contractual section of the AENP for him to become bonded with the two young females, who are currently in the enclosure.  The two young females were the cubs that were rescued in Addo Main Camp after their mother was killed by a snake early last year. They survived for about 2 months on their own and, with the help of the public, rangers were able to rescue them.

The CEO of SANParks, Fundisile Mketeni said, “This lion, at three years of age, is still young enough to bond with the two females and ultimately establish himself as the resident pride male.”

This option forms part of the Frontier Cluster’s Carnivore Management Plan. 

The plan aims to restore or mimic the natural social dynamics of lion behavior, in this case by simulating the dispersal of male lions that would be found in large conservation systems like the 2 million hectares of the Kruger National Park or the 3 million of the Kgalalgadi Transfrontier Park.   

The lions will then be released into the park to be free-ranging. The fence between Kuzuko and the neighbouring Darlington section of AENP is due to be dropped soon which will then provide the three lions with 60 000 ha over which to roam. 

“There is always a risk that this lion may break out again, but this will be mitigated to a large extent by reducing any potential conflict with other males, by placing him in a boma within the existing 200ha boma, and ultimately by establishing him as the dominant male," said Mketeni. 

The combined area of Darlington and Kuzuko is large, with a substantial prey base and only one other coalition of ageing male lions, and hence the pressure on Sylvester will be minimal. In addition, we have an area to the west of the dam to which these males can be retired if necessary.

Mketeni, said “We remain committed to our conservation mandate and can give the public assurance that this decision was in the best interests of the animal and conservation. This decision involved consultation with SANParks Park and Regional Management, Scientific Services and Veterinary Wildlife Services.”

Mketeni said that this option was one of several that were considered and was the option with the most benefits for the lion, as well as for SANParks’ broader carnivore management.

“We will ensure that the lion is fully integrated in line with our Frontier Region Carnivore Management Plan,” said Mketeni.

“We would like to thank members of the public for their interest in this lion and their continued interest in conservation generally. We attempted to respond to every message we received but eventually abandoned this due to the sheer number of messages received in the last two weeks”.

Lion in the Boma at Karoo National Park on 12 April 2016.

Female Lions from Kuzuko Addo Elephant National Park.