When I see these photos and read the accompanying stories and news out of Africa, I realize that all the hard work of those involved is paying off and benefiting the lions. It truly is a great feeling. To know that I played a part, however small, in helping these gorgeous but endangered wild animals thrills me to no end. The lions, after all, are what it's all about.
Wild lions in Africa are in a very precarious state, so this pride of lions will be able to live as free lions but without the primary threat that is responsible for killing off the wild lion population throughout Africa: HUMANS. I met these gorgeous lions while I was there and to know that they now have the opportunity to live as wild lions is a wonderful feeling.
The pride consists of seven lionesses: Ashanti, Athena, Kenge, Kwali, Nala, Narnia and Phyre and the lone male, Milo.They were living temporarily in large enclosures until their release date, with the girls in one enclosure and Milo in a separate enclosure next to theirs. Milo has always been extremely protective of "his" girls. Now they'll all live together, in the wild.
Their release date is TODAY and the entire pride has successfully been released into the protected area.
Here are some photos with explanations of the lionesses in their new home and one last photo of Milo joining his girls. The photos and captions below are copyright of African Lion and Environmental Research Trust.
At first light we found Ashanti, Nala and Narnia making their way along Grasslands towards waterhole one. As they went they stalked then ran at each other before rolling around in the grass.
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Before long playtime was over and Ashanti lifted her head, sending a deep resonant roar across the savannah. Moments later a response was heard, maybe a kilmoetre away. Seemingly satisfied as to where the rest of the pride were she set off with the Ns in tow in their direction, stopping briefly at a waterhole on the way.
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After much greeting and more playing, during which Narnia decided to climb a tree whilst Ashanti watched at its base, the pride settled in for what I am sure they thought was just another lazy day in the Bush
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Now the pride had decided to sleep, it turns out, not very far from Milo's holding enclosure and a commotion over in that direction got their attention.
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As were bringing Milo from the holding pen into the passageway the girls moved towards the release gate, and two in particular; Phyre and Kwali, decided to sit either side of the gate waiting. The rest were in the long grass just to the left of this picture.
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At 10:14 exactly Milo came through the release gate and straight into the waiting girls....
Finally ... Milo enters the "free zone" and rejoins his girls.
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I'll be updating this site regularly with news on how the pride is doing in their new surroundings. For the time being, they're busy exploring their new home and enjoying their newfound freedom.