April 25, 2017

A Kruger White Lion

My Shishangaan Pride Encounter

Ever since the news broke back in July 2014 of a white lion cub spotted on the S100 road in the Kruger National Park I wanted to find and photograph it. Easier said than done, after countless trips to the known pride range and no sightings forthcoming, I was getting desperate.

On every available occasion I specifically booked into Satara camp as this was the closest location to the pride range. My daily outings to view and photography wildlife were coordinated to cover the routes in the area of the famed white lion. There were numerous trips that produced great wildlife sightings but alas no white lion. After many of my trips I would return home only to find postings on social media of sightings of the white lion during the period I was there and on the roads I had traversed, that was frustrating.

I say “frustrating”, but then I am not one to chase around looking to photograph the “Big Five”. I have a policy when visiting particularly the Kruger National Park and that is “work with what you have now”. In short whenever I have stopped at a particular sighting I force myself to resist the temptation to race off chasing a bigger or better sighting. A sighting you may never encounter, as you have no guarantee with African wildlife, rather exhaust the opportunities with what you have currently in your viewfinder.

On many occasions previously, the temptation to move off and look for something else has got the better of me, only resulting in disappointment. I came to this conclusion after many wildlife trips, the realization manifesting once I was home analysing the images. Part of evaluating the images is recollecting the sequence of events that led to capturing the shot, location, lighting, subjects and more. Often the haunting words resounding in my brain, I wish I had spent more time at this spot was inevitably the case.

You may be asking, what this has to do with the white Lion? Well, I broke my rules on the 3rd August 2016 when informed that the white Lion was with a few other lions on the S100 road. It was late afternoon and time against us, but careful calculations indicated we would make it there and back in time before the scheduled camp gate closure. Focused on this “see the white lion” mission, we set off, no other stops allowed. I found my white Lion, in fading light, at a distance and gratefully spending ten minutes in each other’s presence.

Shishangaan Pride White Lion

A sense of accomplishment and calm ensued after this encounter, needless to say I have returned to my old “slow” self. If our paths cross again, white Lion of the Shishangaan pride, it will be a bonus.


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