In stage three the pride in stage two will be darted and moved into a larger area with a greater variety of game species, and more importantly, competitive species such as hyena will be introduced.
ALERT has secured land for our first stage three release area and we believe that the Ngamo pride is now ready for release into such an area. However lack of funding has delayed development of the secured land. We will continue to seek funding to affect this release as soon as possible.
The pride will live out a near-wild life in the managed eco-system. This pride will give birth to cubs that will be raised within a natural pride social system, in a near-wild environment and free of any human contact. As such they will gain the skills and have the human avoidance behaviours necessary for their successful reintroduction into the unfenced wild of stage four.
If necessary, cub production in stage three can be controlled by the use of temporary contraception implants. To maintain gene flow within our stage three release prides, pride males can be replaced by unrelated males from other release areas from time to time.
The intended minimum size for a stage three release area is 40km2. It has been suggested that this area is too small for proper predator prey interactions. Schaller (1972) working in an area of the Serengeti covering both woodland and plains found that home ranges were as small as 30 km2 and up to 400km2. The explanation for the larger home ranges in the Schaller study is that prey species migrated between the two habitat types (woodland and grassland) which was followed by the prides. Bertram (1978) working in woodland only found that home ranges were 20 – 100 km2. Whyte (1975) measuring home ranges in different habitats in Kruger National Park found that in the Delgoa thickets the average was 50km2. Patterson (1988) gave an area of 42 - 369 km2 in Chobe. Hunter (1998) found that reintroduced lions in Phinda Resource Reserve had home ranges as small as 27.6 km2. He also suggested that home ranges shrank in the dry season due to the presence of artificial water sources.
Continue reading about Stage Four.