The highly anticipated sighting of Pumba Private Game Reserve’s first pure White Lion Cubs born in the reserve after a lengthy rehabilitation of almost 6 years, thrilled guests and rangers alike, after a 38 day ‘ROYAL WATCH’ on the reserve. Pumba’s ‘Queen’, Nomathemba, a pure White Lioness, who was rehabilitated and released into the main area of the reserve in October 2011, finally revealed her 3 white lion cubs on Sunday, 29 September 2013.
Believed to have been born on around the 23rd of August 2013, the 3 cubs were sired by Pumba’s first rehabilitated male White Lion, Themba, acquired from a breeding programme at the tender age of 18 months. Dale Howarth, who was instrumental in the rehabilitation process of Pumba’s White Lion, spotted the cubs yesterday morning while on a game drive in the vicinity of the den. ‘Mum, Nomathemba, had 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’ recalls 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 and will become extremely playful as they become more familiar with their surroundings. Nomathemba is an excellent mother and very protective over her cubs, who will only start nibbling on meat from the age of 12 weeks”, says Howarth. Pumba’s White Lions were acquired soon after the reserve opened in 2005 and were rehabilitated in a 900 hectare camp, were 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, having normal pigmentation in the eyes and skin. The unusual cream colour of their coats is due to a recessive gene.