shishangaan white lion Singita Lebombo South Africa

The white lions of Lebombo

You may remember us introducing a leucistic giraffe earlier on this year. If not a brief recap: leucism is a condition where a partial lack of pimentation in an animal causes white skin, fur, hair, scales or feathers. In July Tarangire National Park welcomed the birth of a giraffe, later named Omo after a popular washing brand, whose hair was all but completely white in colour.

Last year, In the Lebombo consession on the edge of Kruger, Nick du Plessis, one of Singita’s guides heard a cracked message over the radio – something about a white lion. After much excited to-ing and fro-ing, Nick established the story in its entirety: indeed there had been a sighting of a white lion – a male cub – born of the Shishangaan pride in Southern Kruger. Nick’s elation showed in Singita’s monthly wildlife reports:

‘The fact that a white lion has been spotted this far east in the Kruger, is nothing short of miraculous’. He goes on to explain that trophy hunting in the 70s saw all white lions killed in the area making the allele – the gene that causes this trait – extremely rare. ‘This is a real testimony to their genetic diversity and pure resilience’.

The year went on and enthused updates of this now sub-adult’s progress continued, until later on in the year yet another white cub was spotted, this time female.

‘This is very encouraging. Males get ostracised by the pride once they reach sexual maturity and so there’s no guarantee our male will reproduce. With a bit of luck though, our female could stay with the pride all her life and one day have her own family.’

According to Singita’s monthly report, a number of sub-adults in the group – including the white male – are spending more time away from the Shish pride as they begin to reach adulthood. In any case, both are alive and continue to thrive as they journey towards adulthood in South Africa’s largest National Park.

Singita Lebombo Lodge aerial shot

Subscribe to our newsletter

Travel ideas, conservation stories and the latest from our exploration team