The White Lions Of Elandela
The “White Lion” is neither specie, nor sub specie in their own right, but a genetic mutation which is only found in the lions of the Timbavati River area in North-Eastern South Africa. These lions possess a recessive gene which inhibits the formation of color. These lions characteristically boast a very light hair color – practically white! This is according to the natural occurrence of recessive genes inherited from the parents carrying the gene. This characteristic is completely different to the common trait of albinism, which could be found amongst lions from all habitats. Albinism, which is also an inherited trait, is a total or partial lack of pigment – therefore the typical pinkish skin clearly noticed around the eyes and even the iris of such animals. In stark contrast our White Lions do not display the signs of albinism, but of leucositism. The pigment inhibiting color can be seen in the eyes – which could vary from the normal yellow to a shade of creamy white, even bluish in tone. Typically the tail tips are white, not black.
The existence of White Lions in the wild was, scientifically speaking, in doubt until their discovery in 1975 – the famous White Lions of the Timbavati – close to South Africa’s Kruger National Park. From the onset, investigations proved that White Lions integrated fully and functionally in the pride, notwithstanding a color which differed distinctly from their environment. From here a few dozen White Lions were exported to Zoos over the world, and a few groups were bred in breeding projects in South Africa.
All these White Lions fall under the sub specie “Pantera Leo Krugeri” or Transvaal Lion. This sub specie is characterized by being the largest and heaviest lion in the wild – males weighing up to 250kg. and females up to 180kg. The heaviest recorded weight being a male of 313kg! These muscular predators were designed to hunt, with muscular hind legs to project the beast forward onto its prey like a coiled spring. The huge front paws have retractable claws to hook and tear its prey, whilst the long fangs cut and slice through windpipe and jugular alike. The killing technique usually revolves around asphyxiation of the prey. All antelopes from warthogs to buffalos and even young hippos and elephants fall within the prey spectrum of the White Lion!
The project to have White Lions breeding and roaming freely on the 4000 hectare Elandela Reserve - the largest White Lion private property in the area where all White Lions originate from – started early this millennium! All White Lions in captivity originate from the same gene pool and therefore exist in controlled environments. The Elandela aim, however, is to offer our guests the exclusive opportunity to experience close proximity to our White Lion prides in their natural habitat. From the onset of this demanding task, Rocco and Yvonne Gioia realized that each individual lion has a different character and disposition. Furthermore, it would be unwise to have rehabilitated a pride of White Lions that were contaminated by bad human habits. Our project to release White Lions to fend for themselves, first had to pass the arduous and slow scrutiny of the Department of Environment, but our application eventually culminated in the official documentation to enable the release of White Lions from a superior gene pool and thus create conditions for their offspring to grow up without human involvement or interaction. Many are the photographs and videos and much is the adoration and exhilaration that sightings of our White Lions command!
During our game drives all occupants of the game viewing vehicle treat these enormous predators with the respect that they deserve in order to admire and photograph our captivating White Lion prides in the wild! There is no doubt that this is the definitive Elandela Lodge game viewing experience and that in itself it gives reason to visit us!
Our visitors enjoy the sighting of these snowy animals as one of the highlights of their visit to South Africa! This is indeed a dream come true for Yvonne and Rocco – come share the experience of seeing a seldom seen sight with us!!
Exclusive, Unique To Elandela Private Reserve And Luxury Lodge, Walking Safari To View
The Elandela White Lions!
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