Sylvester, South Africa’s well known male lion who made headlines two years ago after escaping from the Karoo National Park in Beaufort West, recently became a father, Oudtshoorn Courant reported recently.
The notorious big cat escaped from the Karoo National Park two years ago and has now settled down with a new family. The Kalahari lion is finally happy, after being relocated to Kuzuko private reserve bordering the Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape, after his sneaky escape.
He quickly made friends in his new location, especially with Fielies, a younger male lion. Eventually, he got to meet the lionesses in the reserve named Angel and Nika.
Sylvester and Angel have since consummated their relationship and Angel recently gave birth to twin cubs. “It was a complete surprise,” said the reserve’s general manager Gerhard de Lange.
“A contraceptive was planted under the skin of each lioness in January 2017, but I had no idea it would be possible for them to get pregnant.”
Nature came out stronger in the end, and according to de Lange’s calculations, Angel and Sylvester must have mated in March this year. Lions are pregnant for 110 days, and because the cubs are around 12 weeks, they must have been born in June.
“Because the lions are so well adapted in Kuzuko, I couldn’t tell that Angel was pregnant, because all the lions except for Sylvester are a bit overweight.”
Although there are signs that Angel is nursing, lionesses hide their cubs for a while, which is why no one saw them.
“Since they were born, Sylvester has made himself comfortable in the wooden ravine. I haven’t seen him there yet, but his GPS collar indicated that he has visited the cubs. He has definitely seen more of the cubs that I have,” de Lange said.
The cubs are still too young for their sexes to be determined and at this stage, they are very wary of vehicles.
The lionesses’ survival is also a success story, as they were orphaned at around five months old. De Lange and his team raised Angel and Nika and released them into the wild after they were rehabilitated to look after themselves. According to de Lange this is a first because he and his team could not interact with them once they were released into Kuzuko.
Sylvester and Fielies are a lot friendlier with de Lange, and have accepted him as their human father, even though Sylvester was initially skittish when he was brought to Kuzuko.
“It is a wonderful surprise and a great gift that Sylvester and Angel, who both had their share of hardships, bore two beautiful, healthy cubs. It shows that conservation efforts that are executed correctly and with care can really make a difference,” said an overjoyed de Lange.
Source: The Citizen