Ziggy Hugo, a guide at Hermansburg in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, was with guests when they stumbled upon this rare sighting. To date, this has been Ziggy’s only sighting of this cub.
“Though rarely seen, white lions are not extinct in the wild” Guests in the Timbavati took great pleasure in a rare sighting of a white lion cub in the Timbavati on November 24 and 25. According to Ziggy Hugo, the guide at Hermansburg, the cub was first spotted with three tawny cubs.
”There was another cub, not as white as the other, but definitely lighter than the tawny cubs.” The white lion, thought to be about two months old, seems to be part of a pride of four females and 11 cubs. “I have not seen the cub since,” said Ziggy.
Around the same time, two white cubs, around nine months old, have also been seen in the vicinity of Kings Camp. White lions have historically only ever been seen in the Greater Timbavati and Kruger National Park (KNP) areas. They became famous in the 1970s and 80s, after the publication of Chris McBride’s, “White Lions of the Timbavati.”
Though rarely seen, white lions are not extinct in the wild. A white male lion was seen in the Kruger Park’s Tshokwane area in 1992. In 2006, James Moir captured extensive video footage of two white lion cubs in the Umbabat Private Nature Reserve that borders both the Timbavati Nature Reserve and the Kruger National Park.
Scientists do not regard white lions as a separate subspecies but see them as a recessive variant of the African lion, Panthera leo. They are the offspring of tawny parents who both carry a recessive gene for white coat colour.
White lions are not albinos but are regarded as leucistic, a condition characterized by reduced pigmentation. White lions also have normal eye colour, unlike albinos that have pink, reddish coloured eyes.