Cecil the lion died in a hunting incident some years back, his son “Lesang” is the leader of a new pride.

The following story is from an exert of the Friends of Hwange Newsletter – Cecil the lion as many will remember was a majestic large maned lion from the East of Southern Hwange.

Cecil the Lion’s remaining male cub from his last litter is now six years old, Lesang has banded together with four of Bhubezi the lion’s  youngsters to form a potentially powerful “co-alition” pride of lion. The five boys are currently occupying the area around Linkwasha and the Ngamo plain where Cecil grew to his famed magnificence. They were with two lionesses from the Backpans pride. Dubbed “The Baggage Handlers” the following snippet is cause for a chuckle:

In August 2018, when the lions were still youngsters, they were loitering around the Linkwasha airstrip on the Wilderness concession in the South East of Hwange. Being inquisitive and playful, the cats “stole” a bag that was in the open pod of a light aeroplane that was parked on the airstrip. They proceeded with glee to distribute the contents of the bag all over the airfield.

The bag belonged to a chef working at Linkwasha who had time off and was catching a flight out of camp. He had hidden some meat he had taken from the camp kitchen in his bag. Unfortunately for him, the lions sniffed it out and foiled his plans for dinner that night!

The oldest of the five male lions – Cecil’s youngest surviving male cub – was named Lesang after the chef in memory of the incident, and the group of five are now referred to as “The Baggage Handlers”. Long may they live and thrive.

To find out more about Friends of Hwange – how to support their projects and sign up for the news letter please visit – https://friendsofhwange.com/

VF24 Editor 5

Other news from the most recent Friends of Hwange News letter is as follows.

Coming to the end of a challenging year, despite the disruption world-wide caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Friends of Hwange (FOH) can count 2020 a success.

The solar powered water pumps for which we are responsible kept up a ceaseless flow of water to all the pans. This was critically important this year due to the extremely harsh conditions that were experienced after two years of devastating drought. An early belt of rain in October provided welcome relief and averted much animal suffering and many elephant casualties.

High accolade is due to Gary who continued with his work unabated despite limited labour and many other challenges. Be it maintenance of the pans and firebreaks, an animal stuck in a muddy pan, requests from the Park’s personnel for assistance, visitors to the park with a crisis car breakdown or guides from the safari camps constantly stopping by in need of advice, Gary never hesitates to help.

After several failed attempts to drill a second productive borehole at Kennedy 1 pan we have finally won – thanks to Chombe drilling for their perseverance and for the exceedingly generous rates they have afforded us for drilling at K1. In addition, we have funded another successful borehole at Masuma Dam which has long been the subject of some concern. These two new boreholes will be equipped with solar powered water pumps early in 2021.

Provision of monthly ration packs for some 60 rangers in the Park has been ongoing since June and will be continued for some time to come. This does much to boost ranger morale. In addition, we have been able to keep the Main Camp Clinic stocked with essential medical supplies at a time when this has been most needed.

A project to remove tons of copper phone wires left dangling on derelict poles in and around the Main Camp/Dete area was completed this year. This wire had the potential to yield thousands of lethal snares. Started by the CWF some time ago, high praise is due to Paul de Montille of D.A.R.T who together with his team and many other enthusiastic assistants picked up the reins to continue and complete the job.

Funds for this were organized and provided by FOH in conjunction with The Educasa Foundation , SACT (Southern African Conservation Trust), SARF (Save African Rhino Foundation, Australia), and Hwange Conservation Society UK. Our sincere thanks to all parties who contributed to the success in this important initiative.

FOH has continued to provide support throughout the year for snare sweeps and animal rescue work, protection of natural habitat, and in conjunction with Birdlife Zimbabwe, we contribute to the conservation of birds. All species of African Vultures, Bateleur Eagles, Martial Eagles and Secretary Birds are now officially classified as being in danger of becoming extinct. Birds are vitally important as they are the messengers that tell us about the health of our planet.