As many of you know by now, South Africa is in a complete lockdown due to the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus. This is an incredibly uncertain and stressful time for all people across the globe and WE send our thoughts to all our viewers.
While the world waits, we have some exciting news to share. WE have partnered with the world-famous luxury travel company &Beyond. This company has 29 luxury lodges and camps which are ideally situated to showcase the very best of Africa’s iconic safari and island destinations.
To begin with, WE will be broadcasting from &Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve, a private concession inside the Kruger National Park. However, this relationship will be slightly different from what WE have done in the past. Instead of us taking our own vehicles and guides to a new location, WE will be broadcasting LIVE from a Ngala game drive vehicle with one of the Ngala guides showing you the sights and sounds of this beautiful location.
Prior to lockdown, WE managed to send Marcel, who is one of our brilliant engineers and camera operators, to Ngala with all the necessary equipment needed do this. He is now settled at Ngala and will stay there for the duration of lockdown to make sure we are compliant with the South African lockdown laws. As things currently stand &Beyond and WildEarth plan to be broadcasting from Ngala throughout the lockdown and hopefully for a long time to come.
&Beyond Ngala is a 14,700 hectare (36,500 acres) Big Five private game reserve that shares unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park and Timbavati Game Reserve. One of the most exciting things about broadcasting from Ngala Private Game Reserve to our viewers during this time is that they have two of the world’s only three white lions living in the wild.
You may have heard of the world-renowned white lions of Timbavati. They were first ‘officially’ discovered in 1938 (although local African elders have regaled tales of their existence for centuries) and this white gene pool is unique to the greater Timbavati and southern Kruger area (where &Beyond Ngala is situated). It is the only place in the world where white lions occur naturally. These famous white lions of Timbavati had long since disappeared from the area, seemingly never to return, until two years ago.
In March 2018 &Beyond guide Lyle McCabe discovered a beautiful white lion cub on Ngala. This fragile new addition was one of four cubs born to the Birmingham female of the well-known Birmingham Pride. At the same time, another female within the pride had also given birth and astonishingly, within her litter of just three cubs, two were white.
Of course, many of you will remember the Birmingham Boys. In 2015 the Birmingham Boys moved into our area from the north pushing the dominant Matimba Males deep into the South. In doing so, they took over the protection of the Styx and Nkuhuma Pride of females. It was an incredibly turbulent time which resulted in many deaths of adult lions and cubs alike.
Statistically, only 50% of all lion cubs survive in their first year, and very sadly this prized trio of white lion cubs were killed in a dominance takeover staged by the Ross Males who are now the new leaders of the Birmingham Pride. However, they started mating with the pride immediately, and in November of 2018 a four cub litter was born, one of which was white. This feisty little male, who is now one year and five months old, was soon joined by a gorgeous white female who today is 11 months old.
WE are hugely excited to be following the lives of these incredibly rare cubs and look forward to taking you all on this exciting journey as we watch them grow and learn how to survive in the wild.
WE will start our new adventure from Ngala with the Sunrise Safari on April 1st. From then on and for the whole of April, Ngala will feature in both safaris every day. There will be three &Beyond guides who will rotate as your hosts on Ngala, and in the coming days, WE will share some information about them so you can get to know who they are.
WE look forward to bringing &Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve to you daily along with all our favourite characters from Djuma.
Photo credit: Sean Messham