What you usually miss in the Park
THABAZIMBI – The Marakele Predator Centre, best known for its white lions, is located just 9km outside Thabazimbi on the road to Marakele National Park.
For any visitor to Thabazimbi, this is the place to see white and tawny lions close up, as well as an array of other predators, indigenous and exotic.
The 12 lions at the centre are kept in three big camps, fully enclosed with game fencing.
For excitement, other than walking between the different enclosed areas, you can book a trip in the lion mobile, a fully caged-in Land Cruiser that will take you on a lion-raising trip through one of the lion camps. On these trips you will encounter the lions in their natural habitat, even experiencing them on top of the cage, with you looking up to them. Only this time you are in the cage and they are outside. Do not try to touch them, just keep in mind that these are wild animals. If you want to go on a trip in the lion mobile, it is advised to book in advance. The fees for the lion mobile are R50 for adults and R30 for children. These fees do not include entrance to the Centre.
The other predators include a cheetah, three spotted hyenas, one brown hyena, two bengal tigers, and the latest addition that is a must to see, one white tiger.
Being at the centre during feeding time is something not to be missed. Even though there are only two feeding times every week, the animals know when they are about to be fed. Every species approaches the feeding situation in their own unique way. The bengal tigers, for instance, collect the meat and spread out because they are not social eaters.
Feeding the lions is a completely other situation. Some of the Lion camps have three or more lions. The Lions are lured into a smaller camp within the bigger camp after which the gates to the smaller camp are closed. The meat is taken into the main camp and left there. All gates are closed again and the lions in the smaller camp are released, usually with a rush to get first to one of the piles of meat lying on the ground. A lot of growling amongst members of the same group is quite common.
The seven month old white tiger cub is being introduced to carcasses as he is not used to dealing with hair, feathers or fur. He can smell that there is meat, but does not quite know how to handle the carcass yet.
The cheetah on the other hand, is fed with two fresh chickens as a cheetah, by nature, has a weak stomach. The chickens, which are moved away from the feeding spot to the bush, are both eaten in under five minutes each.
The brown hyena is very skittish by nature and only comes to collect its meat when it feels it is safe. It collects it meat and then disappears back in the bushes and eats where it cannot be bothered.
Feeding times at the centre are Wednesday and Sunday at 12:00. Entrance fee to the Marakele Predator Centre is R100 per adult and R40 per child.
The Marakele Predator Centre is a recommended destination for everyone in the area during the festive holidays. The Centre is open for all 365 days in the year from 09:00 till 16:00. What is better than treating your family and friends, visiting from other areas, to a visit to the centre for a half day or full day excursion? Arrangements can be made even to have a braai on the premises. For the kids there is also a jungle gym to keep them occupied. Unfortunately, day visitors are not allowed to bring in any alcoholic refreshments. It is suggested if you want to have the bring-en-braai, to phone early to confirm that the facilities are available. Cool drinks are available at the canteen.
For additional information you can call Emma at 0715977752 or Mike at 0823232456.
E-mails can be sent to: email@example.com or visit their website at www.marakelepredatorcentre.co.za.
See more photographs in 21 December’s edition of Kwêvoël.