The wildlife at Shamwari is exceptionally diverse. We have many different animal species on the reserve and within these species we have many different family groups. It’s always heart-warming to see interaction between the young and the old, the siblings and just plain old affection between partners. On this Easter weekend, when quality family time is a priority, the same goes for these awesome species.
The largest of Africa’s cats and renowned for its majesty, Lions possess both beauty and strength.
Lions are the only social member of the cat family and live and hunt in large groups called prides. Related females and their young make up the majority of the pride. They have a highly evolved social structure in the pride, which consists of several related females and their cubs, and two or three territorial males, usually brothers.
Lions within a pride are often affectionate and, when resting, seem to enjoy lots of touching, head rubbing, licking and purring. The males are territorial, roaring and using scent markings to establish their domains.
Within the pride, the territorial males are the fathers of all the cubs. When a lioness is in heat, a male will join her, staying with her constantly. The pair usually mates for less than a minute, but it does so about every 15 to 30 minutes over a period of four to five days. Litters consist of two or three cubs. Usually two or more females in a pride give birth about the same time, and the cubs are raised together.
Burchell’s Zebra are social animals, often seen standing nose-to-tail mutually grooming each other. This is how they strengthen their social bonds. In a harem, the members often scrape and nip along the back, neck and shoulders, using their lips and teeth. The frequency of grooming is the most between the mothers and the foals, followed by the siblings.
They live in small family groups known as harems, each harem led by one stallion controlling a few mares and their foals. These family groupings remain intact even when zebra’s join bigger herds. Until they are of the age to form their own harem, young males tend to live alone or in small bachelor groups. These young and strong males can become harem stallions by abducting females in oestrus.
When attacked by predators, the female zebras would run with the babies, with the males trailing behind to defend them. If one is attacked, the other members of the herd would encircle the predator along with the victim for the purpose of protecting it.
Eland is a species of antelope. These creatures have big antlers and are the biggest species of Antelope found in Africa. These enormous antelopes stand at a height of two metres at the shoulder and a fully grown adult, on average, can weigh up to seven hundred kilograms.
Eland are social animals and live in large groups. Another interesting characteristic of an Eland herd is that it includes a nursery for the calves. When threatened by predators, the herd forms a front with the large males taking the lead positions while the calves and pregnant females are protected behind the fort of large males.
African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of related females called a herd. The herd is led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd, called a matriarch. Herds consist of a large or small group of individuals depending on terrain and family size. When a calf is born, it is raised and protected by the whole matriarchal herd.
Baby elephants depend on their mothers’ milk for the first 2 years of their lives. Males leave the family unit between the ages of 12-15 years and may lead solitary lives or live temporarily with other males. After a death, elephant family members show signs of grief. Elephants may revisit the bones of the deceased for years after them passing.
The White Rhino is a grazer and lives in social groups. They sometimes gather in groups of as many as a dozen individuals. Females reproduce only once every two and a half to five years. Their single calf does not live on its own until it is about three years old. Rhinos have sharp hearing and a keen sense of smell.
They may find one another by following the scent trail each enormous animal leaves behind on the landscape. Females use their horns to protect their young, while males use them to battle attackers. When they feel threatened, white rhino groups stand in a circle facing outwards to form a barricade with calves near the centre.