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Africa Geographic
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Africa Geographic Travel

The black-maned lions that roam freely through the Central Kalahari Game Reserve are tough predators that traverse the barren desert landscapes in search of prey. Their distinctive presence is foreboding and unpredictable. Unused to game vehicles and shying away from humans, they command respect. They are the true kings of the Kalahari.

A black-maned Kalahari lion.
A black-maned Kalahari lion.

The males, with their flowing black manes, are majestic. The reason for the dense black manes? It is thought that they regulate temperature by retarding heat loss and keeping the animals warm during the bitterly cold desert nights. Of course, this is debatable. Some say the manes signify that the Kalahari’s lions are a remnant population of the Cape lion. Irrespective of their origins, they are a sight to behold.

Adriaan Barnard, manager of Haina Kalahari Lodge on the outskirts of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, says that there has been an interesting development amongst the black-maned lions in their area. A new pride of lions has travelled across the Central Kalahari, and settled in the Haina area.

A female. If a male sub-adult overthrows the current pride leader, this lioness may lose her cubs.
A female. If a male sub-adult overthrows the current pride leader, this lioness may lose her cubs.

The pride comprises of three large females, a dominant male (he has been with the pride for three years) and a trio of young males who are beginning to reach sexual maturity. Their development is problematic for the dominant male, who wants to rule the pride, and he is attempting to oust the sub-adults. But he is outnumbered. One of the females has four cubs roughly three months old and the other mum has three cubs of about the same age. The third female has five sub-adult lions, two of which are trying to take over the pride.


When male lions begin to reach sexual maturity they need to procreate with females in the pride. A young male who takes down a pride leader goes on to become the new male in charge. He will kill the suckling cubs, causing the females to go into oestrus and mate with him. At Haina, this leaves us with a problem – if the sub-adults males overthrow the current dominant male they will probably kill off the cubs. The next few months will be interesting, if not harrowing. Adriaan and his team will be watching and monitoring these kings of the Kalahari.


Who will rule the pride? Will the sub-adult males fend off the dominant male? Will the cubs survive? Only time will tell. Adriaan will keep us posted with the latest updates and the internal sagas within the pride.

For more about Haina Lodge and its lions, or to book a visit, go to

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Carolynne Higgins

Carolynne Higgins loves life, sometimes a little bit too much, she admits freely. This quality became evident at university, where she managed nevertheless to finish her degree in English, teach herself web design & SEO, study copywriting and cartooning. She's passionate about photography, writing, sketching, design, travelling and the outdoors. Recently, she has developed an odd obsession with a lion pride in South Africa's Klaserie Nature Reserve, near Kruger. Her interests are sometimes a little bit offbeat as she doesn’t particularly care for the normal, and her 'winging it' approach to travelling has led her into some interesting situations. If something's boring, Carolynne will ensure it becomes an adventure. Her current position at Sun Destinations, a company that handles marketing, sales and reservations for a number of camps and lodges, manages to curb her not-being-able-to-sit-still problem and allows her to write about travel … and travel.