Sylvester the lion’s new life in Addo

This article was originally written by Gaynor Siljeur of Wild. To view the original click here. 

The country’s most talked about lion, Sylvester, who twice escaped and went wandering about the Karoo, has since moved to a new home and started a family. Wild checks in on his new life in Addo Elephant National Park. By Gaynor Siljeur

South Africa was first introduced to Sylvester the lion when he escaped Karoo National Park in June 2015. For three weeks and more than 300km, this big cat went gallivanting around the Karoo – and straight into our hearts.

After his inevitable capture, Sylvester was fitted with a satellite collar. This alerted rangers when he escaped the park yet again in March 2016. Luckily the cat with the itchy feet was recaptured three days later. To stop Sylvester from going walkabout a third time, SANParks decided to translocate him and in May 2016 he arrived in Kuzuko, a private contractual area in Addo Elephant National Park.

The country’s most talked about lion, Sylvester. Pictures by Gerhard De Lange

Father, friend and partner

In his new 15,000 ha home Sylvester had no trouble making friends and finding love. He quickly bonded with two lionesses in the reserve and formed a coalition with a younger male lion named Fielies. He grew especially close to his favourite lioness, Angel, and in June 2018 she gave birth to two cubs.

Sylvester’s favourite lioness, Angel, and the two playful lion cubs.

Although Sylvester and Fielies have the run of the reserve, they are anything but bored, according to Gerhard de Lange, general manager of Kuzuko. “As there are two older males on Kuzuko’s western fence-line, Sylvester’s coalition is stimulated. They patrol up and down this western boundary for a couple of days a week, then they go hunt, check on the females and their cubs, and then go back to the fence again. By doing this, they keep the older males at bay,” Gerhard explained.

Sylvester grew especially close to his favourite lioness, Angel, and in June 2018 she gave birth to two cubs.

Asked about Sylvester’s behaviour with the cubs, Gerhard says: “Like any other male lion who has sired cubs, he accepts them. He also accepts the cubs of his coalition partner.”

Sylvester with his coalition partner, Fielies.

There have been daily sightings of Sylvester where he is usually spotted with Angel. The infamous escape artist also kills regularly and has seemingly developed quite the appetite for adult eland bulls.

Social behaviour of lions

In an article in the upcoming issue of Wild, former game ranger Mitch Reardon explores the social behaviour of lions in Addo Elephant National Park. Research is showing that the big cats behave differently in smaller parks than in bigger protected areas such as the Kruger National Park.

Orla McEvoy, who studied lion social dynamic in 33 small South African reserves for her PhD in zoology, found that low lion densities changed the ways the felines interacted. A single pride removes the stress from unknown, competitive lions, with the result that females have less motivation to group together or look for male guardians.

In Addo adult males at similar stages of development tend to form lifelong coalitions of two, travelling and hunting together, as is demonstrated by the bond between Sylvester and Fielies.

More Tales

Safari Dinner Adventure

Safari Dinner Adventure

Happy New Year to our Kuzuko family around the globe! It has become tradition at Kuzuko to ring in the New Year with a Safari dinner adventure, and oh boy did we have an experience!  Starters were served as part of our sundowner game drive experience. This year...

Conservation in action

Conservation in action

Conservation in action! This is the story about Sylvester, Fielies, Angel and Nika. These are the four special lions who make up the Sylvester pride. Each one had little hope of survival, but we now celebrate their survival, successful integration into nature and...

New Big Birding Day record

New Big Birding Day record

A flashback to another successful Big Birding Day held at Kuzuko Lodge It was a magical experience shared with our guests and visitors, and we are excited to announce the fact that we set a new BBD record for Kuzuko! On the 3rd of December 2022, we observed a total of...