THABAZIMBI – White lions are given a second chance to breed in the bushveld, thanks to the initiative of Mike and Chrissie Hodge from Akasia Lodge near Thabazimbi. Mike and Chrissie emigrated eight years ago from Brittain, and settled on the farm Zondagskuil, about 30km from Thabazimbi. Their main object was not to attract overseas hunters but to stock the farm with game and build a lodge from where visitors could enjoy the freedom of the bushveld. Thus, Akasia Lodge was born. Mike joined the Five rondavels, where the farm workers used to stay, and converted it into a thatched roof building of which the inside reminds one very much of a mediaeval castle in the highlands of Scotland. Gangways connect the upper decks which provides for magnificent sunset views. A viewing-deck is situated on the Eastern upper deck. An excellent lounge, bar and dining facilities as well as the rondavels, which were converted to one double room and three twin en-suite bedrooms, form the lower portion of the lodge. Their battle to commence breeding with white lions started more than three years ago. At that stage there were only about 300 white lions left world wide. A year later the certificate was granted and the Hodge’s finally could commence with their dream. At that stage the breeding boma with its electrified fence was already constructed, ready for the lions. They started off with a 50% male lion and a 50% white female. George was born on 21 February 2004 and Nala, the female was born on 16 April 2004. Both lions were from the Lanseria Lion Park. Nala had a cub, Nina, born on 26 April 2007. The bushveld experienced at that stage rather cold wet weather and as it was her firstborn, she abandoned the cub at birth. It was only arriving at the boma the next morning that they realized that Nala must have given birth during the night. The tiny cub, which only weighed 1.5 kg, was soon found under a bush and it was Chrissie’s task to nurse this new fondling as Mike was away on business in England. After Chrissie sorted out the initial parenting problems, Nina reacted well to her new environment and became part of the family, although she thinks she is a dog. During August 2006 they acquired a white male, Tyson, then eight months old and a white female, Tisha, five months old. These lions are kept in a separate camp next to the older pair and since they have already formed a strong bond, will be the main breeding pair.
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