The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is in the heart of the Lowveld region of South Africa. A piece of unspoitl Africa.
The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve lies within the Greater Kruger National Park open system and covers an area of 53,396 hectares (131,944 acres) with 47 landowners Bound by a common constitution committed to preserving the fauna and flora of the area and well know for their white lions.
The reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park and lies nestled between the Kruger National Park on the east, the Klaserie and Umbabat Game Reserves in the north and the Thornybush Game Reserve in the west and Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve in the south. There are no fences between the Timbavati and the Kruger National Park which allows free movement of wildlife between the reserves.
In Xitsonga, the name 'Timbavati' means "the place where something sacred came down to Earth from the Heavens", and refers to the rare white lions of Timbavati.
In the early 1950’s a group of like-minded landowners realized that inappropriate land use could lead to habitat degradation and loss of wildlife for future generations. Working together, they formed the Timbavati Association in 1956, with the aim of preserving the natural integrity of the area and now consists of 50 contiguous tracts of land housing 12 luxury tourist lodges.
An important milestone in the history of the reserve was the dropping, in 1993, of the fences between itself and the Kruger National Park and other adjoining privately owned conservation areas. This expansion of the open system initially included Timbavati, Klaserie and Umbabat Private Nature Reserves, and later the Balule Nature Reserve, adding some 184,000 hectares to what is today referred to as the Greater Kruger National Park. More recently the fences between the Timbavati and its neighbour to the west, Thornybush, were also dropped, which opened an additional 14,500 hectares, further encouraging natural species migration.
When the White lions of the Timbavati were discovered in the mid-1970s they became the subject of much interest and debate. The story of the "White Lions of the Timbavati" has been told by several people, including Chris McBride. McBride was the son of Timbavati member Cyril McBride, who at the time owned the farm Vlakgezicht, together with his brother Robert. Lions with a recessive gene causing the coats to be snow white (though not albino) reappeared in the Timbavati in 2006 after an absence of many years.Their white coats are not the product of albinism, a relatively common condition resulting from a failure to develop pigment, but from another condition called "leucism," in which the pelt is white but eyes and skin are pigmented. The condition is rare and also termed a "chinchilla mutation." It is thought to represent an evolutionary stage in the progressive loss of pigmentation. The white mutation, which affects two of the pigments involved in coat coloration, is expressed only when two conditions pertain: (1) Both parents carry the recessive "white gene"; (2) the offspring inherit the recessive gene of each parent. If a cub receives a dominant "tawny" gene from either parent, its pelt will be tawny. Thus a litter may contain both tawny and white cubs.
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