• The Curious Traveler

From WS: The Legendary Lionesses of Shumba Camp

This post originally appeared on February 26, 2014 on Wilderness Safaris blog. It was written by Shumba Camp manager, Ingrid Baas Janssen. Shumba Camp is situated in the center of the Busanga Plains of Zambia, close to permanent water and within easy access of the teeming floodplains. Shumba is known for its large prides of lion that are often seen right next to camp – or even, unusually, in trees. Shumba Camp lies right in the core of the Busanga Prides territory, this coupled with the abundance of lechwe and puku sets the stage for incredible and unique lion sightings and interactions. This camp can be included in a customized safari to Southern Africa; contact karen@www.boundlessjourneys.com for more details.

It’s no coincidence that Shumba Camp takes its name from the local vernacular for lion…
The entire Busanga Pride is very comfortable in and around Shumba Camp – on the boardwalks and on the decks of the guest units – so it’s not just one lioness that likes to spend time or raise her cubs in the camp. The current pride consists of three lionesses, three cubs and two male lions. All these lions have been seen on the decks of guest units or on the boardwalk and over the years different lionesses have raised their cubs in and around camp. In 2013 one of the lionesses had three cubs in camp; in 2012 a different lioness had hers here. In 2011, 2010 and 2009 various lionesses had their cubs close to camp or in the staff compound.

And it’s not as though they have a specific room that they go to – their favourite room switches regularly. In 2013 the lions spent most of their time at Room 1, but they have been seen on the deck, or the boardwalks of all the rooms. We have also seen them in the main area.

There is also no set time that the lionesses have their cubs, or are in and around camp. They can be seen at Shumba throughout the year while the camp is open (June through November). In 2013 a lioness had her cubs in April and at the beginning of June we found them in camp. In 2012 we found them around August. A lot depends on the water levels in the Busanga Plains for the lions to be comfortable around and in camp. If the water levels are very high around camp at the beginning of our season, they prefer to stick to dry land further out of camp. Guests probably have the highest chance of seeing the lions in camp from July onwards, but as mentioned, in 2012 we started seeing them in June.

The lions are not permanently in camp, but move around. Sometimes we don’t have them in camp for a few days and then unexpectedly they return. We have strict safety protocols in camp and all guests are informed about these safety measures on arrival and if necessary, we obviously move guests to a different room.

It must be said that guests who visit Shumba won’t be guaranteed lions in camp, but last year almost every guest who stayed for a few days experienced a visit from our local shumba.

By Ingrid Baas Janssen



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