Zukhara and his brother, Matsieng, split up into what Turner calls a pincer formation, a hunting tactic that allows the brothers to envelope their prey, giving it little chance of escaping. The pair pick up the scent of a nearby hunt about a kilometre away.
Linda Tucker, founder of the Global White Lion Protection Trust, says the lions’ fate should not be determined by policymakers serving their own interests. Lions, she adds, should have a voice at CITES CoP17. This is why the trust is running the One United Roar campaign with communities in Timbavati. The children, pictured above, are speaking on behalf of the lions.
Jason Turner, the lion ecologist at the trust, uses radio telemetry to determine a lion’s proximity. When Turner and Tucker introduced the white lions into the wild 14 years ago, scientists were skeptical that they would adapt to hunt and be able to camouflage in the bushveld. Turner says the lions integrated quickly into the environment and are thriving.
Linda Tucker roars for the crowd at one of the trust’s camps. Tucker has immersed herself into Shangaan culture, using their knowledge systems to communicate with lions.
A typical male lion paw print. Male lion paws are larger and its toes more splayed than lionesses. Measurements taken from a lion’s paw print can also help Turner guess its age. Such tracks can also help determine the direction the lion is headed.
Zukhara relaxes in the morning sun after spending a night hunting. The cats at the trust hunt game and occasionally porcupine.
Zukhara is one of just 12 white lions remaining in the wild in South Africa. Policymakers at CITES CoP17 are gathering next week to determine whether or not lions will be moved from the endangered species list to not-under-threat.
The lions are once again kings of Timbavati in Limpopo. But their numbers in the wild remain small. CITES CoP17 is opening on 24 September, where policymakers will decide if it is okay to hunt these magnificent beasts. 2,678 more words