An adult male lion recently received a new tracking collar on the Greater Mabula Private Game Reserve. The operation included the full ecology and reserve management teams.
Ivan Killian, Mabula reserve manager, explains that one member in a pride of lions is always collared for monitoring, research, and security purposes. “It’s important for the ecological team to understand the animals’ movements and behaviour, which includes monitoring their feeding ecology.”
The current collar, he says, was emitting a weak signal, which was making it difficult to monitor the lion, hence the need to replace it with a new tracking device.
The procedure included darting the lion to ensure he was immobilised for about an hour, giving the teams the time they needed to complete the important tasks.
Andy Fraser, a wildlife vet from Rooiberg who is familiar with the reserve and assists with most of the reserve management interventions, says the lion also received various mandatory vaccinations, treatment for a tick infestation, and a thorough check-up.
He reports that the lion weighed in at 238kg – a healthy weight for an adult lion of his age.
Once the new tracking device was fitted and all the checks were complete, a reversal drug was injected to mobilise the lion again. He was monitored by the teams for a short while afterwards to ensure he recovered well.
The tracking device is expected to remain operational for up to five years, which is great news for the Mabula team.
This male is one of three young male lions who were translocated from the Kalahari in 2021 with the help of The Bataleurs, a non-profit company with over 200 volunteer pilots and aircraft. The translocation was prompted by ongoing initiatives to increase genetic diversity on the reserve.
The Greater Mabula Private Game Reserve has been home to wild, free-roaming lions since the 1990s, and the trio are now the 5th generation of lions to make their home there.
Since their release into the reserve they have adapted well – this gregarious male now keeping company with a pride of four females.
Reserve manager Ivan expressed his satisfaction: “The lion population at Mabula is stable, and there’s an excellent dynamic within this pride particularly.”