The Royal Pride
The Royal Pride (consisting of 2 males and 2 females) arrived at SanWild’s Cat’s Rescue Centre on the 3rd of September 2004 on very short notice. As a result of this they were saved from certain death from being hunted. The police had been busy investigating the illegal capture of some white rhinos and giraffe from one of the Provincial Game Reserves close to Hoedspruit when they discovered that some lions had also been stolen by the same offender.
The lions that were stolen were brought to a private game farm and the owner claimed that “some wild lions” had arrived on his farm of their own volition. He notified the conservation department and informed them that he was happy for them to stay. Some time later, one of the lionesses had cubs and they grew up as wild lions on this private farm. However, these lions disappeared and only the young sub-adult lions remained along with one of the adult females. It is believed that the original lions stolen were hunted.
During June 2004 this group of lions were captured on the private game farm and placed in captivity. They were then offered for sale at the Hoedspruit live game auction. When the owner was not satisfied with the bids offered, he decided to have them hunted instead.
The Assets Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the South African Police Services stepped in and confiscated the animals as it was evident that the individual concerned was using the opportunity to make a profit. This action by the Police Services saved the lions’ lives and ensured they could be brought to SanWild for safekeeping.
In 2005 the court case was finalized and the animals were forfeited to the state. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Limpopo informed the SanWild Wildlife Trust that the animals would be put up for sale. The SanWild Wildlife Trust put in an offer to purchase the lions using donor funding obtained from a group of private individuals and the Bill Jordan Foundation for Wildlife. The offer was accepted by the AFU in July 2005.
The sales agreement also made provision for yet another injured lioness to be moved to SanWild from a Rehabilitation facility in Hoedspruit. This lioness could not be moved at the same time as the other lions as she was injured. As she had bonded with other lions at the rehab facility we agreed that it would be in her best interest to remain at this facility.
Soon after the Royal Pride arrived at SanWild, it was discovered that one of the lionesses was pregnant. In order to prevent over-crowding, a decision was made to give all male lions vasectomies to prevent any further breeding.