Sylvester is in good form and doing more than just eyeing the lionesses. Here he was photographed with his male buddy, Fielies, in March.

KAROO NEWS – Sylvester, the magnificent Karoo lion who survived two escapes (2015 and 2016) from the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West and covered 371km while managing to elude tracking parties for more than three weeks, is alive and well.

He roams a 15 000 hectare area in the Kuzuko Contractual Area of Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape. After his arrival at Kuzuko Lodge in May 2016, he was placed inside a one hectare holding boma within a 300 hectare soft-release-camp. Here he was bonded into a coalition with a partner named Fielies.

In November 2016 the two males were released into the camp with two females, Nicka and Angel.

The four animals were released into the 15 000ha area in January 2017, where the lodge’s general manager, Gerhard De Lange, has been keeping a careful watch over their well-being.

A Sylvester’s Facebook page was set up because he had captured the imagination of the public who were rooting for his survival during his daring escapades. There are photos showing that this time round, Sylvester is clearly rooted in his new surroundings and may be forming a special bond with one of the lionesses.

While Fielies has taken a liking to Nicka, Sylvester is clearly taken by Angel. Though Sylvester and Fielies were well bonded, they have now taken to wandering into their own areas and are well established as pride males.

Offspring – or not
A journalist who longingly wrote about offspring had apparently not thought things through. “How do you think we will cope with two whole litters of little Sylvesters?” asks De Lange.

“It could lead to depletion of the existing prey population available to Sylvester’s pride. Moreover, where would his offspring be moved to when they are two years old? Hence the females are on contraception and once we can ensure his future offspring will be moved to a safe location, we will allow Sylvester to sire cubs.”

De Lange has been working with lions for the past 28 years and clearly knows the harsh realities relating to their gene pools and territorial fights, as well as other issues that complicate breeding even in the relatively safe surrounds of a nature reserve.

Sylvester’s Facebook page follows his daily activities and photos show him getting cosy with the wild lioness Angel. The females who make up Sylvester’s pride are also quite unique. They were orphaned in Addo during 2014 and were raised to be wild and self sufficient, and De Lange cannot call them, walk with them or touch them – truly a first for conservation, he says.

No threat

On video clips the two males are also shown casually sauntering past a semi-enclosed safari vehicle. De Lange, who knows Sylvester well, says although he is a wild lion to all intents and purposes, he is not inclined to be a threat to humans in a vehicle.

“In fact, he has become so accustomed to our game viewing vehicles that he totally ignores them,” he says.

In a previous publication, it was erroneously reported that Sylvester had died. Sylvester fans can rest assured – although he is not siring cubs, he is very much alive and prancing around the Kuzuko Lodge managed by Legacy Hotels and Resorts, much to the appreciation of tourists from all over the world.

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Original article can be found at George Herald