The South African Predator Association is delighted to take note of recent video footage confirming the birth of wild lion cubs produced by parents born and raised in captivity. Three short videos have been recorded on cell-phone by a ranger of The Reserve where the lions had been released on 14 December 2016.
"It didn’t come as a surprise," said SAPA executive council member, Tienie Bamberger. "We, who have knowledge about lions in the wild and also working with lions in captive facilities, always knew that a lion retains its instincts, whether it has been born in the wild in Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, or on a farm in the Free State. But we are still very excited to have it confirmed in a controlled and monitored programme."
In the videos the cubs can be heard making distinctive infant-lion sounds before appearing from the bush into a clearing. They are accompanied by their mother, a large lioness bred and donated to the project by Mr. Nico Breet.
Another video shows the cubs sticking close to their mother when they hear the male lion grunting close to them. They immediately cower when he appears. Although this male, bred by Bamberger, is an enormous animal, he seemed at ease in the company of his off-spring.
The confirmed birth of these cubs puts a severe dent in a cosseted theory held by anti-hunting observers. They have generally insisted that captive-bred lions have no conservation value. It is a central theme of a recent controversial video, wherein a number of experts maintained that it would be impossible to release captive-bred lions into the wild. They postulated that these lions would not possess the necessary skills to hunt and kill prey for food. These notions have already been thoroughly dispelled. The lions on the Reserve have successfully and often brought down large prey like kudu.
Since their release they have thrived by surviving on their own.
"Of course this wasn’t enough," said Bamberger. "They, these anti-hunters, then came up with the idea that these lions won’t be considered wild if they do not breed successfully in the wild. Well, we knew it was just going to be a matter of time. Even we were surprised by how quickly they mated, had cubs and are raising them successfully."
SAPA is confident that the birth of these cubs will inevitably lead to a change in the conversation regarding captive-bred lions. In the past animal rights activists have drawn a sharp distinction between captive-bred lions and wild lions which made it possible to dismiss ranch lions as being without value. The birth of these cubs has changed the entire narrative. It is clear, after all, that a lion is a lion. As long as there are lions born on predator farms, the species is thriving.