Orpen Lions – Central Kruger National Park Lion Sightings

Orpen Lions: I have always wondered why there is such a high density of African Lions in the central Kruger National Park, especially around the Orpen area. So I decided to do a bit of research and also speak to my good friend Brandon, who is FGASA accredited Field Guide who works at Ulusaba in the Sabi Sands. I have come to many conclusions, and decided to write a post about the Orpen Lions, of which I have seen many times.

Why Orpen Lions?

Orpen is, at the time of writing this, my favourite Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park. I visit it every year for a few days, and I am never disappointed. The beauty of Orpen is it is such a small Camp and it is located in game viewing heaven! The birding is also very good, and I have seen some amazing birds in the immediate area. I often wake up before the sunset to the glorious sound of Lions roaring, sometimes close by, sometimes in the distance, but it sets up your day so nicely and gets you really excited to see what the day will offer you! One thing I have never been disappointed with is the Lion sightings. Even when the general game is scarce, you still have a great chance of seeing the animal that so many visitors to the Kruger want to catch a glimpse of: the African Lion.

The Lion Prides Of Orpen

Social Media has helped me a lot in getting some information on the Lion Prides that occur in close proximity to Orpen. The main 2 prides, at the time of writing this, are the Mbiri Pride and the Skorro Pride. Now, I know for a fact their territories overlap, and by quite a bit. I once saw a male from the Mbiri Pride, and then came across the Skorro Pride a few kilometres later, and then to my absolute astonishment, I came across the Mbiri Pride about 1 kilometre from the Skorro Pride. So somehow the Mbiri male was in-between the prides. He was very relaxed, lying down in the road.

I have also heard that the famous Birmingham Pride sometimes venture close to Orpen, and then the current pride where Casper the white Lion is (One of the dominant males), also sometimes get close to the Orpen region. So, at any time, there could be 4 prides of Lions within kilometres of each other. It is fascinating. Come to think of it, the Talamati Pride is not too far away either.

So Why Are Orpen Lions So Prevalent?

This was the question… And it is quite simple. Orpen is situated in vegetation rich habitat, perfect for grazers and browsers. It is also part of the Greater Kruger National Park in terms of being close to Klaserie Private Nature Reserve and the Timbavati Game Reserve, which are not fenced. The Lions of the Kruger National Park have favourite prey items… These are abundant in the Orpen area: African Buffalo, Blue Wildebeest, Burchell’s Zebra, Kudu and to a smaller extent Impala and Giraffe. Even during the dry months, the Lions do not need to look very far for a hunting opportunity.

The area around Orpen fascinates me, and there are just a large population of African Lions in the immediate area, it is great for Big Cat lovers.

What About Other Predators?

You would think the high Lion density would mean no other predators right? Wrong!

Obviously the Spotted Hyaena is very common in the area, as they scavenge most of their diet in the Kruger, and this mean being opportunistic at Lion kills. Night drives from Orpen along the H7, S106 and other roads will reveal huge amounts of Hyaena. If you like these interesting predators, Orpen is the place to be!

Then there are also quite a few Cheetah and Leopard around. Not to mention at least one pack of African Wild Dogs. They are all there for the same reasons as the Lions, but they are taking a chance of prey being stolen or getting injured and even killed by the much bigger apex predator in the region.

The 4 photo’s below were taken on the same day, and include a Mbiri and Skorro male, a cub and female from the Skorro Pride too. If you have any information on the Orpen Lions, please feel free to share it with us and get in touch!

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