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Bulawayo Game Sanctuary gets new furry resident

by Staff reporter
01 Dec 2022 at 04:55hrs | Views
Tshabalala Game Sanctuary on the outskirts of Bulawayo has a new tenant; a three-year-old male lion that was released yesterday to the facility from Hwange National Park.

Still nameless, the lion was introduced to two lionesses, Naughty (9) and Skippy (8), to bond and also help boost domestic tourism.

This will bring the number of lions at the Sanctuary to five. Tshabalala Game Sanctuary was opened in 2020 by Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu.

It is situated 10 KM from the Bulawayo city centre along Matopos Road.

The release of the young lion was coordinated by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) and will see it stay in a holding cage for a few days so that it acclimatises to the area.

The lion will be fed a diet of either donkey or pig, while it has its drinking water put in troughs.

The young lion made the three-hour 280KM journey from Hwange National Park to Tshabalala Game Sanctuary in a cage at the back of a Toyota Land Cruiser.  When it arrived at Tshabalala Game Sanctuary, the cage had hordes of flies buzzing around as the youthful lion would occasionally growl and sneer while in the cage.

Zimparks workers were busy preparing the inside enclosure where it was going to be housed.

The process of releasing the lion is a dangerous one and a lot of precautionary measures were taken.
Before sensing the sneering and growling by the young male lion, Naughty, one of the lionesses, had smelt that there was a new figure at the sanctuary.

She paced behind the fence grunting and on occasion roaring, while Skippy was busy eating what looked like a beef shank, seemingly uninterested in what was going on. It took the strength of six heavily built men to lift the cage from the back of the Land Cruiser into the enclosure. Before the cage was opened, the gate was secured with wires to prevent the young lion from crashing through it when released.

When the moment of truth arrived, the cage's sliding door was opened and the young lion took its sweet time to come out. While this was happening, Naughty the lioness was prancing around the enclosure waiting for the young male to come out.

Thereafter, he bolted out for a taste of freedom but his run was quickly halted by the enclosure's fence.
While growling and exposing his teeth, the young lion charged towards the Zimparks employees on the other side of the fence to try and intimidate them or perhaps just to mark his territory.

The two lionesses started sniffing and growling at him, in particular Naughty who was very much interested in the young buck. However, it was not aggressive towards the females but submissive.

The lion will stay in the enclosure for two to three days while being fed and acclimatising to the new environment before it is released to the out enclosure of the lions' den to interact with the two females.

One of the keepers, Mr Ishmael Moyo said the lions were going to be friends in time for the weekend activities at the sanctuary.

"Naughty was interested in the young lion and that's why she was trying to see how he would react. I'm happy with his reaction, as he was submissive and didn't show any aggression towards them. So I'm sure by the weekend we can release him to the outer enclosure so that he can mix and mingle with the other two," said Mr Moyo.

He said the cage would be removed then.

In six years, Mr Moyo said, the young male would be mature and have a fully grown mane.

Zimparks Regional manager for Matobo Mr Midwell Kapesa said the release of the lion was in line with promoting domestic tourism.

"We want to promote domestic tourism and educate children about the animals as Tshabalala is a sanctuary. It is important that we have some of these animals closer to the people to educate the community so that they know the behaviour of these animals," said Mr Kapesa.

Tshabalala Game Sanctuary is a place where leisure meets wildlife to produce a brilliant mind and body-relaxing environment. Previously only known to offer wildlife trips, the place now promotes domestic tourism and Zimbabweans have gone there in droves to celebrate the beauty of nature.

Tshabalala Game Sanctuary is made up of thorny bush veld and hosts a variety of wildlife which includes guinea fowl, francolins, giraffe, zebra, warthog, impala, tsessebe and other smaller antelope as well as many species of wild birds and waterfowl.

Visitors are allowed to leave their cars at the entrance, walk through the wilderness and experience the sights and sounds on foot. Driving and cycling are also permitted while horse rides can be arranged.

Source - The Chronicle