Addo’s Jack the lion moves to Shamwari for genetic biodiversity

One of Addo Elephant National Park’s more popular inhabitants, the lion known by some members of the public as Jack, has been successfully relocated to the Shamwari Private Game Reserve.

Jack the lion, photographed by @aarts_lens

Four-year-old Jack’s move forms part of the Carnivore Management Plan of the Frontier Region (the administrative area of the Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Karoo and Mountain Zebra National Parks). This plan aims to restore or mimic the natural social dynamics of lion behaviour that would be found in large conservation systems such as the two million hectare Kruger National Park or three million hectare Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. For example, the tenure of dominant pride male coalitions is on average three years and therefore pride take-overs are mimicked by switching male coalitions across the managed parks, as was done in the region in 2018.
Furthermore, male dispersal out of a pride is mimicked through the removal of sub-adult males from the park, hence Jack’s relocation to Shamwari, also in the Eastern Cape.

Jack, the lion. Photographed by @aarts_lens

Jack has pure Kalahari genes and therefore has valuable genetics which will aid in improving the genetic integrity of Shamwari’s lion population. Shamwari has two prides of lions in their reserve. It is hoped that Jack will join up with what is known as the Shamwari northern pride.Due to the continued severe drought experienced in Addo over the past seven years, the lion population will remain small to assist in the recovery of the prey species and predator-prey dynamics in the Park. After Jack’s move, only five lions will remain in the main game viewing area. The removal and reintroduction of male lions into and out of Addo also plays an important role in preventing inbreeding within this population and therefore aids in maintaining the genetic integrity of its lion population.
The Lion Management Forum (LiMF), of which South African National Parks is a member, plays an important role in the management of wild lions in South Africa. It ensures lion metapopulation guidelines are adhered to and lions will only be relocated to parks or reserves who are members of LiMF.