About the Author

Nick Sims

Contributor

Nick always had a love for nature. Growing up in Johannesburg, the annual family trip to the bush (particularly the Kruger Lowveld region of South Africa) became an escape from city life. When he and his brother weren't physically in the bush, they ...

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on World Lion Day 2021

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Francesca Doria
Digital Tracker

One of the best tribute to lions! I was eagerly looking forward to it… oh all the legendary prides and single individual stories, they are incomparable, as an umbrella species they have even more significance. Luckily they are not in the situation of their asiatic cousins, which may be deleted as a species by an illness or a bushfire, as just a handful of them is left.

Francesca Doria
Digital Tracker

I read the moving description of the last days of Majingilane made by James Tyrrell. It pulled my heart ‘s strings. I wonder how many Majingilane are left nowadays. The saddest thing is watching a powerful invincible force of nature fading away. I hope there will be more Majingilane, Sparta, Birmingham and Tsalala , now ready to raise.

Nick Sims
Contributor

Thanks Francesca! I’m sure there will be many epic prides and coalitions that will grace us with their presence in the years to come.

Victoria Auchincloss
Digital Tracker

Lions are beautiful and up close a but intimidating . On our first visit to Londolozi we came across a group of 4 lions all asleep. We stopped and Jess said “just sit quietly, it is safe. Just then one of the lions woke up and seeing the car decided to say hello. My husband was sitting right in front of the seat where the lion stopped. I give Phil credit , he sat there and they looked at each other for a minute, whereupon the lion turned around and flopped down on one of his brothers and went back to sleep. I have huge respect fir lions, beautiful and just a tad intimidating! Thank you Victoria

Nick Sims
Contributor

What an amazing first sighting!

Camille Koertner
Senior Digital Ranger

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!!! Or Dorothy, maybe just the excitement of Lions is enough as we majestically view them, hear them roar or crunch on the bones of a kill. Sharing our lions’ safari stories in the Boma or remembering later when back home is truly a gift from the Varty family. Thanks for ALL your visions!

Darlene Knott
Master Tracker

Happy World Lion’s Day! I am so proud to share my birthday with this special day! God bless the lions that are still here for all of us to enjoy!

Bronwyn Varty-Laburn
Creative Director

A very happy Birthday!

Darlene Knott
Master Tracker

Thank you so much!

Vin Beni
Guest contributor

My birthday too!

Darlene Knott
Master Tracker

Happy birthday a couple of days late!

Vin Beni
Guest contributor

We have had incredible close-up experiences with these lions over the years. Each has inspired the emotions you mentioned, Nick: fascination and fear. Our most recent was an evening when entire pride of 12 walked single file directly next to our stopped vehicle, each making eye contact and moving on. Unforgettable! Friends are in disbelief when they view the video.

Nick Sims
Contributor

Thanks so much Vin!

Irene Henkes
Senior Digital Ranger

Thank you, wonderful overview. I was just wondering, years back, in Kruger Park, there was this bovine illness which didn’t kill the buffalo, but it did kill a lot of lions. I can’t remember the name of the illness, but is it under control now? Or did it never reach the Sabi Sands?

Nick Sims
Contributor

Hi Irene, yes the bovine tuberculosis did affect the lions but thankfully both the lions and the buffalo populations seem to have recovered.

Irene Henkes
Senior Digital Ranger

Thanks Nick, that is great to hear. Lions looked really awful and very sick, not like they are today. Happy to hear that that is in the past.

Karen Hart
Digital Ranger

Seeing and hearing a lion roar in the bush is an experience I shall never forget, and one I hope to repeat soon. Watching an entire pride pass by your safari vehicle one at a time and looking them in the eye is an emotional experience. I was completley taken by surprise at the total lack of aggression or fear in their eyes and their demeanor which is so different than the demeanor of those I had previously viewed in zoos/rescue centers. They truly are majestic in every sense of the word.

William Paynter
Senior Digital Ranger

With the ecological systems of our world under continued intense pressure to be able to celebrate Lion’s Day is a gift. Not just a gift to the lions but, a gift to humanity. Keeping places like Londolozi open and available is one of the best ways to continue preserving our planet and its many interwoven systems.

Nick Sims
Contributor

Thank you William, we plan to play our part in protecting lions for many years to come.

Ian Hall
Master Tracker

In the 1980s there were 10,000 lions in Kenya now down to 2,500

Christa Blessing
Master Tracker

I remember all the lions I have seen so far in my life. From the very first ones, two brothers sleeping all day long, to the legendary Tsalala pride of Londolozi and 15 lions who passed our car single file once, to countless cubs seen again after a year or two as sub-adults or adults. All awe inspiring, very impressive! I am grateful that I have been able to watch and admire these wonderful animals.
It is a pity indeed that they are so endangered and that maybe our grandchildren won’t be able to see such amazing animals any more in the bush. Let’s hope that this can be prevented.

Valmai Vorster
Digital Tracker

Happy world Lion day. They deserve to be feared and at the same time admired for their majestic strength, agility and determination. Their roars go right through you and then you begin to realize that this is a formidable predator to be reconed with. Thank you for protecting these majestic cats for all to see and admire. That foto of the original lion Big Black is stunning. Trackers and Rangers working together to track and photograph them is so rewarding to us and the guests that travel kilometers to come and see them.

Nick Sims
Contributor

Thanks Valmai!

Lachlan Fetterplace
Senior Digital Ranger

Nice write up Nick. It would be interesting to read a piece on Big Black sometime too.

Linda From California
Senior Digital Ranger

Nic, this was an excellent bit of history on the lions on Londolozi. You gained moment with that wonderful roar. There is nothing more spectacular in the bush than the feel of the lion’s roar. I do like James Terrel’s black and white picture of the lions. It really stands out to me. I would hash tag it as #Paws for life, now playing live at the Londolozi Reserve.

Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

A fantastic tribute to our magnificent lions. I’ve been fortunate to be up close and personal with thick/maned males, with sweet faced females and the rambunctious cubs throughout Southern Africa. Honestly, I’ve been in awe but never experienced fear as I knew I was safe in the vehicle. Coming face to face, eyes locked with a mature male, I wondered what he was thinking – I couldn’t take a photo as he was next to me, his rancid breath polluting my space and my lens was too long, even at 35mm. It didn’t matter as I just wanted to experience that several seconds of eye to eye, his golden eyes gleaming in the morning sun- one of my best safari moments ever! I hope this recognition of World Lion Day continues to inspire all readers to support these wonderful animals.

Nick Sims
Contributor

Thank you! Let’s hope many people are inspired to protect Africa’s lions.

Leonie De Young
Digital Tracker

A really nice blog and tribute to the Lions of Londolozi Nick. They really are magnificent creatures and I really liked the diagrams and info you included. It is sad to see the figures of how they have decreased over the years. I take my hat off to the Varty Family for doing what they do – far better to shoot with a camera than a gun. Thanks for sharing with us.

Nick Sims
Contributor

Thanks Leonie, I couldn’t agree more – better to shoot with a camera than a gun.

Thank you for this story. I can’t look upon that beautiful face of Othawa male and not have a tear in my eye!! He was what got me, into the lions, and wanting to go on safari!! The most beautiful lion in Africa, in my opinion!! I would wake up in the morning and search to see that beautiful face of his. Search for anything to make sure he was still roaming the area with his girls. He was so awe inspiring for me. I fell in love with this male lion at first sight. Hoping one day to go on a safari so I could witness such beauty and power in person!! He was truly a ladies man, his ladies loved him, if such a thing exists in lions. The way, when they were together, they looked as if there was respect for one another. Their bonding moments was, what looked as love to me. I hoped he would stay with his ladies and be close to them at all times but he was a lover and wanted maybe to expand his territory. He was playing with fire is what was said. Then that awful morning came, the news I so much was hoping would be wrong. Othawa male is no more!! Tears filled my eyes and all I could think was they have to be wrong. For me, Othawa male, was invincible. I should have been more prepared, is all I could think, but nothing can prepare you for news like that, no matter how much you rehearse for it. Till this day, I have a hard time gazing upon his face without tears. Now, I look for any information I can find on what two cubs he has left out there. The information doesn’t come fast enough for me sometimes. I said I would never again put heart and soul into another lone lion but I can’t help myself looking and searching for news on Red Road and the Young Birmingham male. Both of these beauties happen to be lone lions. For me there will never be another Othawa male. He has a special place in my heart no other lion will fill!! I can’t help but think that him accepting the birmingham daughter set his fate. I wonder if he thought that was his daughter, therefore, the scent of the others, did he think they were his as well? I don’t know all there is about lions I’m still learning. However this would make more sense to me if this is the case. Thank you for letting me be a part of such beauty and power as the Othawa male. I would not have been able to witness such magnificent and majestic beauty as this if not for you all. I enjoy all of the post, videos, and letters that are sent. I appreciate everything you all do. I want to thank you for letting me feel as if I was right there with you all. Africa is a beautiful place and you have some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets ever. I would still love to visit sometime. However I would have to win the lottery to be able to afford it.

Nick Sims
Contributor

We were also heartbroken when we learned of the Othawa Male’s demise. Sadly these moments do happen out in the bush, however we are so happy that we are able to share all of the lion stories with people like you and that you too can enjoy watching the lion sagas unfold.

Lisa Antell
Digital Tracker

Seeing lions in the wild is a moment of pure awe and admiration!

Michael and Terri Klauber
Guest contributor

Nick, Thank you for the wonderful way you are bringing attention to these endangered animals. It is truly amazing that because of the pioneering efforts of the Varty family, we are able to get so close them. The mutual respect between humans and the many lion prides and coalitions over the years is incredible to watch!

Gawie Jordaan
Senior Digital Ranger

When a ROARS sounds, one should listen..

Cally Staniland
Digital Tracker

Thank you Nick for this wonderful tribute to the most iconic cat of Africa. Long may they thrive and be protected for our children’s children to enjoy 🙏💕

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