Iconic. Majestic. Awe-inspiring. Finding just one word to describe an intimate encounter with a lion in it’s prime is a near impossible task. For most people lions provide an intoxicating mixture of fear and fascination. The powerful emotions that lions evoke in people almost act as proof that us as humans still have some connection to our primal ancestors who lived alongside these animals for thousands of years.
You only need to hear a lion’s roar to truly understand your place in the ecosystem.
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Today truly wild lions are only found in a few isolated wilderness areas but despite this, people all over the world still have huge admiration for these amazing animals. Thankfully, Londolozi is is one of the last refuges for the African lion. So today, on World Lion Day, it seems fitting to look back at Londolozi’s relationship with lions and look forward to what the future has in store…
For it was lions that led us out of hunting into conservation and now towards restoration and a fundamental shift in consciousness about how we live on this planet and relate to the creatures with whom we exist. – Dave Varty
Since its inception, lions have always been at the core of Londolozi’s existence. When Charles Boyd Varty and Frank Unger first stepped foot on the land that would one day become known as Londolozi, the year was 1926 and lions were at the forefront of their minds.
Back then, lions were feared terribly and were fundamentally misunderstood and as such, they were hunted. Fast-forward to the nineteen seventies where people’s attitudes towards lions were changing. Slowly but surely people were beginning to understand the ecological importance of lions and the invaluable role that they played as apex predators in the African bush.
The Varty’s were among these early visionaries and made the revolutionary decision to shift away from hunting to photographic wildlife safaris where lions were to be protected for generations to come. This decision proved to be a stroke of genius.
Over time the concept of safari and spending time viewing animals in their natural environment caught on. The mere thought of seeing a wild lion was enough to convince people to travel from all over the world to stay at Londolozi. The experience of tracking lions in the past had equipped the Varty Brothers and the other early rangers with the skills required to find lions in the thick bush. Always guided by local Shangaan trackers, like Winnis Mathebula who were legendary for their ability to track down lions. The Ranger/Tracker combination has been the winning formula for finding lions at Londolozi ever since.
Since those early days, the rangers and trackers at Londolozi have tracked, found, viewed, photographed, and filmed innumerable lions. Collectively we have watched lion dynasties rise and fall. We have witnessed the arduous passage from tiny cub to fearsome adult. We have been so fortunate to have been given an intimate glimpse into the lives of so many lions over the years. The stories of famous lions like Big Black, the Mapogo Coalition, the Majingilane Coalition, the Sparta Pride, and the Tsalala Pride live on through their descendants and new stories are constantly being written as lions continue to thrive at Londolozi.
Today we are able to share stories of the Lions of Londolozi with people from all over the world, whether it be on a game drive or via the blog or social media. The importance of these stories cannot be understated. With less than 20 000 lions left in the wild, these stories are more important than ever because they help to raise awareness about the uncertain future these incredible animals face.
Conserving and expanding protected wilderness areas is the key to the survival of the lions.
By visiting Londolozi or engaging with us through the blog you play an important role in lion conservation and for that we thank you! Thankfully lions in the Greater Kruger Transfrontier Park, in which Londolozi falls, are thriving and it is our hope that we will be able to be a part of their stories for many years to come.