A very ceLEbratory birthday
February 13 2018

The 30th of January 2018 was a tremendous occasion for three of members of the Dambwa Pride.  LE1, LE2 and LE3 had their fourth birthdays, marking their transition into adulthood.  Over the years, we have watched these three special lions blossom from little cubs into confident adults.

Leya and her cubs

LE1 was the darkest of the cubs when young, with a distinct dark amber vertical stripe of random spots down his forehead.  At six months of age, he was seen to be a ‘mummy’s boy’, remaining the most attached to Leya of his siblings.  LE1 has now grown into a large male, who is still quite blonde and is more than willing to wrestle with his brother, or play with a nearby chameleon.


LE2 also had a spotty forehead when she was young, but hers was in a linear pattern.  She was a bold and social cub, who was quite affectionate to Loma and Kela.  She was the most independent cub from her mother, but now is very social with Leya.  Leya and her daughter frequently seek each other out for extended allogrooming sessions.  LE2 has grown into a stunning heart-shaped faced lioness, with strong bonds with her siblings and most other pride members.  She is inquisitive and not afraid to try and steal snacks away from the smaller females in the pride, especially when she has her brothers behind her for support.

LE2 at six months old


While LE1 and LE2 both had distinctive spots and markings on their faces as cubs, LE3 had very few and was the palest in colour.  He was more than happy to go off alone to play with sticks and other random objects; behaviour that has remained with him.  LE3 has grown into a bold but relaxed lion.  He is quick to back his sister up at any point, whether chasing noisy birds or starting mischief, but is also one of the last members of the pride to stir himself during a movement, often hanging back instead with Kela.

LE3 at 10 months old

LE1 and LE3’s manes have recently become thicker and longer, providing more coverage over their body. Although they are still quite blonde, black tips are starting to show on their dorsal crest and neckline, as well as some development along the spine.  The bond these two brothers have with each other makes them thick as thieves!

Inseparable brothers 

This trio have a special place in the hearts of anyone who follows or has visited the Dambwa Pride and we can’t wait to see what their future holds!

About the Dambwa Lion Release Site

The 6 adults (1 male and 5 females) of the ‘Dambwa Pride’ were captive born and released into the ‘Dambwa Lion Release Site’ in 2011, having been walked in the rehabilitation phase of the ex situ conservation project, the African Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Programme.  The pride’s 6 offspring (3 male and 3 females) were born in the site and have had no human contact, display natural behaviours, and are intended for release into the wild in the final phase of the Programme.

Support the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Programme

  • To make a donation or to fundraise on our behalf click here.
  • To meet the pride as a volunteer, intern or facilitated research student click here.

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