In mid- December 2015, the lion population on the reserve became infected with a virus – Canine Distemper Virus (CDV). The suspected source of the virus was from domestic / stray dogs in the local area, as there was an outbreak of CDV in August 2015.
It has been confirmed that the virus has no ill-effect on humans but this strain was however highly aggressive in lions. CDV forms part of the Paramyxoviruses, a family of 36 species.
By late January 2016, all the lions on the reserve, barring one female from the Southern pride, had succumbed to the disease. She was captured and held in a predator holding pen for evaluation. All her tests came back negative, with no signs of contracting the virus in any form.
Renowned specialists and their organisations were involved from the start to ensure the reserve received the best advice and assistance available.
A recombinant vaccine arrived from the United States of America early this year, and our lioness received various vaccinations and were released back onto the reserve.
In the meantime the reserve has been busy sourcing lions from all over South Africa, a beautiful male was obtained from Tembe Elephant Park. He famously cut his stay in the predator boma short, by breaking out, and has since linked up with the reserves last remaining lioness. They were recently observed mating, which is great news, as this indicates that he will settle quickly on the reserve.
We currently have 2 additional lionesses in the predator boma, who are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a second male, whom will be arriving from Thanda Private Game Reserve. They will be released together forming a second pride.
Later in the year another male will also be introduced as a nomadic male to the property.
The lionesses in the boma, are however getting used to the vehicles, as we are allowed sightings of them on certain days weekly.
The new lions will all be subjected to the same vaccination program in order to avoid a possible reoccurrence of CDV on the property.
We look forward, to hopefully soon, be able to share the news of some lion cubs on Welgevonden…