Sylvester the lion, who rose to fame after escaping twice and after walking more than 370km outside of the Karoo National Park has become a proud dad!
The team at Kuzuko Lodge, a member of Legacy Hotels & Resorts, are pleased to announce that Sylvester the most loved lion in South Africa and his lioness mate Angel, are officially parents of two lion cubs. The courtship happened during the first week of March this year.
Named Sylvester, the lion earned the nickname Spook — Ghost in the Afrikaans language — after escaping from the National Park and eluding searchers for more than three weeks in 2015. He was captured in a search that cost more than R500,000 before escaping again in March.
Sylvester spent the three-week vacation went on a sheep-killing spree, wandering over 370km before he was found by rangers taking a nap under some shade. He was immediately airlifted from the Nuweveld Mountains and fitted with a tracking collar.
The second time he escaped, rescuers followed the signal from his collar to find him high up in the mountains in Western Cape again.
Karoo national park authorities had originally considered putting Sylvester down but chose to rehouse him away from male competition after the lion’s plight was highlighted in a Twitter campaign in South Africa.
Sylvester has now been happily at Kuzuko for more than two years and settled into a tight knit coalition with his male counterpart Fielies. Now, the proud father of two lion cubs, Sylvester and his lioness Angel, have showed us the true power of Mother Nature and defied all odds to become 100% integrated lions in the wild.
“We have two lionesses in the reserve with whom the two male lions have established a close bond,” states Gerhard de Lange, Reserve General Manager at Kuzuko Lodge.
“Although both lionesses were on contraception we started to suspect that Sylvester’s lioness, Angel, had given birth between 15 – 20 June of this year.
Angel showed all the signs of having cubs suckling her, but as lionesses keep their babies ‘hidden’ for quite a period while they are very young – we hadn’t been able to spot them. On Monday, 10 September our suspicions were confirmed, as Angel and her two little cubs started moving around together and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them.”
According to De Lange, the cubs are approximately 12 weeks old and in good health. Their mother Angel, is another Kuzuko success story as she herself was rescued at five months old with her sister as an orphan and instead of being tamed or raised in captivity, De Lange and his reserve team raised them to be 100% wild.
This lion and lioness are an incredible conservation story. Sylvester, who was during his ‘great escape’ almost euthanized because people simply didn’t understand that he was running for his life and needed a territory of his own and a coalition partner to join up with. And Angel, who by all rights shouldn’t even be alive, are now parents.
“Sylvester never fails to surprise me. Since I first heard of him through his jaunts through the Karoo – causing havoc during his time out of the protected wild – till today where he is completely integrated at Kuzuko, he is living proof that conservation, when done right, is always the preferred option.
“I can confirm that Sylvester himself has paid the mother of his cubs a few visits since they were born, so we are sure that Sylvester and his coalition partner will provide them with the protection they need. We can also confirm that the two little cubs have adopted their father’s good looks and are fit and healthy,” says De Lange.
De Lange also wants to thank SANParks for allowing him the opportunity to bond these four special lions together and this exceptional outcome is a reflection of their conservation vision.