African Pride Pumba Private Game Reserve

Photograph by Dale Howarth: African Pride Pumba Private Game Reserve.

After a 38-day royal watch at African Pride Pumba Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, white lioness “queen” Nomathemba showed her litter of cubs to the world for the first time on Sunday.

Nomathemba is a pure white lioness that was rehabilitated and released into the main area of the reserve in October 2011. The three cubs were sired by the reserve’s first rehabilitated male White Lion, Themba, who was moved to the reserve at the age of 18 months to establish his own territory and start a breeding programme of these special big cats.

Dale Howarth, who was instrumental in the rehabilitation process of rehabilitating and relocating the white lions, spotted the cubs on Sunday morning while on a game drive in the vicinity of the den.

“Mum Nomathemba ventured out of the den with her three cubs in tow. The sighting lasted a mere 5 minutes, but was a very touching and emotional experience because we’ve waited a very long time for this special birth,” says Howarth.

“The sex of the three cubs will only be evident at approximately 6 months. The cubs will now start venturing out of their den more often and are set to become extremely playful as they learn more about their surroundings. 

“Nomathemba is an excellent mother and very protective over her cubs, that’ll only start nibbling on meat from the age of 12 weeks.”

African Pride Hotels Group Marketing Manager Nicholas Barenblatt says the cubs are a welcome addition to a reserve that is doing brilliant work in the global conservation arena with this breeding programme.

“The reserve and its lodges are already world-class in anyone’s book, and these furry new additions will only make visiting this wonderful location an even better experience.”

African Pride Pumba Private Game Reserve’s white lion programme started soon after the reserve opened in 2005 and the first ones were rehabilitated in a 900 hectare camp where they were taught to hunt and fend for themselves. 

These three cubs are the first pure white cubs to be born since the mating pair of Themba and Nomathemba were released into the main reserve. Pumba Private Game Reserve is one of only two reserves world-wide, where free roaming, self-sustaining White Lions can be viewed in their natural environment.

The first sighting of pure White Lions is believed to have taken place in the Timbavati area in 1975, by Robert McBride, a Zoology PHD Student at the University of Los Angeles.

The White Lion is not a distinct subspecies. They are not albinos and having normal pigmentation in the eyes and skin. The unusual cream colour of their coats is due to a recessive gene. 

For further information on the reserve call +27 46 603 2000 or visit www.africanpridehotels.com.