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Two lion cubs have been sighted in Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia, significantly marking the first birth of lion cubs in the park for well over 10 years. They were born to the protégé of the park’s famous lioness known as Lady Liuwa.

It is believed that this is the lioness’s second set of cubs and that she probably lost her first set due to inexperience. The father of the cubs is the park’s only male lion. The lioness has hidden her new cubs in thick bush, making it difficult to photograph them.

For more than nine years Lady Liuwa was a solitary, lonely lioness roaming the grassy plains of the park in search of fellow felines with whom to mate and hunt, the sole survivor after massive poaching and illegal trophy hunting wiped out the species in the park in the 1990s. The extraordinary story of how she turned to humans for companionship and how the conservation team at Liuwa Plain National Park helped to find her a family became one of the most moving wildlife films of all time.

The lioness in the front is Lady Liuwa and the lioness to the back is the new mother © African Parks/Paul Godard
The lioness in the front is Lady Liuwa and the lioness to the back is the new mother © African Parks/Paul Godard

Lady Liuwa has dedicated Facebook, and other social media, profiles and has also featured prominently in the international media. Lady Liuwa’s protégé, the mother of the two newly born cubs, was one of two young females introduced from Kafue National Park in 2011. Her sister was killed by a snare in 2012 and she, probably traumatised by this event, ran away towards Angola. In a dramatic rescue mission she was darted, airlifted back to the park, and placed in a fenced boma.

African Parks then took the decision to place Lady Liuwa in the boma to encourage the two lionesses to bond. After two months the two lionesses were released back into the wilds and have since been inseparable.

Two male lions, which were introduced to Liuwa from Kafue in 2009, also headed towards Angola in mid-2012 and one was reportedly shot dead by villagers in Angola. His companion, who made it safely back to Liuwa is now the resident male in the pride and father of the two new cubs.

“We are overjoyed to have sighted the cubs and will closely monitor the new offspring to minimise threats to them,” said Liuwa Park Manager, Raquel Filgueiras. “The birth of the cubs will help safeguard the future of lions in Liuwa and strengthen the park’s tourism offering. It is an event in which all stakeholders including ZAWA, the BRE (Barotse Royal Establishment), the Liuwa communities and the park itself can be proud.”

© African Parks/Raquel Filgueiras
© African Parks/Raquel Filgueiras
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African Parks

African Parks is a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments, wildlife organisations and local communities. We operate thirteen national parks in nine countries: Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi and Benin. Please see www.african-parks.org or visit our Facebook page for more information.