Black Lions Prowling

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 9th, 2008

[Reports such as the following are rare, indeed, and do get us solidly back to a cryptozoological frame of mind. Needless to say, for those not knowing, melanistic lions – even in South Africa – are not scientifically verified. – LC]


A black lion known to exist is the guard of the Pszczyna castle, Poland, 15th century.

From Nelspruit, South Africa, comes this breaking story:

Big black lions are said to be roaming the streets of Matsulu township outside the Mpumalanga capital, terrifying residents who say they are too afraid to walk outside at night.

Residents have been making anonymous phone calls to the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) about “black lions” that have escaped from the neighbouring Kruger National Park, said MTPA spokesperson Jimmy Masombuka on Thursday.

“We have been receiving these calls from frightened residents who tell us that they spotted black lions prowling the area,” he said.

He said that while the MTPA took the phone calls seriously, no lions have been found by officials sent to search the area.

“It is surprising for us to hear of black lions. But, although it’s hard to believe, you don’t just dismiss these kind of things. Maybe we are sitting on a great discovery,” he said.

No reports of attacks

Masombuka said some people who said they had seen may have mistaken the dark brown colours for black, or perhaps they had seen the lions at night.

He said it was possible the lions could have returned to the park without harming anyone.

“There have not been any reports of livestock being attacked by the animals. But, if livestock was eaten, we would have to hunt down and kill the lions because they would become a problem,” said Masombuka.

He warned residents not to try tackle the lions on their own, but to immediately report sightings to the MTPA.

He also warned people that if they came across dead lions, not to eat the meat as lions carried diseases that could harm people.

Masombuka said the MTPA previously had had to kill lions that had escaped from the Kruger Park into neighbouring communities where they had killed and eaten livestock.

Source: ‘Black lions’ terrify township 09/05/2008 09:10 – (SA) – News 24 – South Africa


Were black lions more common in the ancient days of the European cave lion or other European re-locations? The Black Lion on Lion St, Abergavenny, continues a tradition in the naming of some pubs in the UK.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

7 Responses to “Black Lions Prowling”

  1. noobfun responds:

    very interesting.

    but i wouldn’t worry about pubs being called the black lion in england, there’s a tradition of naming pubs black/red/white lion.

    within 5-700 meters of where i live there were 2 red lions and a black lion pub.

  2. kolobe responds:

    An interesting article Google turned up on black lions,

  3. kittenz responds:

    I’ve seen photos of lions having a hyperabundance of melanin, which give their coats a sort of sooty appearance … not really melanism like that found in leopards and jaguars, but a coloration known as “abundism”, in which the normal black markings are more pronounced and/or extend farther than usual.

    I’ve read of cases where an otherwise normally colored lion had abnormal black patches of color, but I have not yet located any photos of such lions.

    Some subspecies of lions, which have extremely black manes and belly fur, may have an incidence of melanism, but I have not found any documentation to support that.

    I wonder if these melanistic animals could be some sort of hybrids? I have seen photos of a melanistic jaglion at Bear Creek Sanctuary and it is beautiful, but although the lion features are obvious, it could not be mistaken for a full-blooded lion. Melanism in jaguars is a dominant trait, so cubs from a black jaguar/lion cross could be melanistic, even though only one parent has the gene for melanism.

    Lions have been known to hybridize with leopards, too, at least in captivity, but the melanism in leopards is caused by a recessive gene and so the cubs from a black leopard/lion cross would not exhibit melanism, although they could carry the recessive trait.

    When lions are backlit by strong sunlight, they appear darker than they really are … maybe that is what people are seeing. Or maybe there really are some melanistic lions; the fact that none have ever been documented does not mean that they can’t exist. What an awesome-looking animal a melanistic lion would be!

    This is a link to some recent photos of the jaglions at Bear Creek Sanctuary:

  4. cryptidsrus responds:

    Awesome lik and story.

    Let’s hope more sightings occur. And that nobody gets hurt in the process.

  5. thatericn responds:

    That picture of the Black Lion Pub makes me thirsty.

  6. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    Interesting–my first thought, too, was that they were seeing the lions at night and assumed they were black. However, I am curious as to why they would assume that. Is there some history or folklore among the people concerning black lions? Certainly they wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that every creature they see in the dark is black. It is also very odd that the lions, any lions, would roam about the streets and not attack livestock. My guess is that is why the lions would be ranging off the preserve–for food, especially easy food like livestock. Very curious. Do we know if there have been daylight sightings?

  7. Bake Neko responds:

    The abundance of melanistic big cat sightings continue. Intriguing.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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