These incredible pictures of a beautiful white lion family roaming free in the wild show rare scenes that will warm the hearts of conservationists the world over.
Centuries ago the wildlife in the area of the Western Cape, South Africa, was all but decimated to make way for agriculture.
Now the 130,000 acre Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is hoping to return the area to it natural inhabitants - the wildlife.
An ambitious £2.25million project has been undertaken by Mantis Collection - who own a series of hotels and wildlife reserves - to return all the wildlife to the area.
Back to the wild: Two male white lions that form part of a beautiful and rare white lion family roaming free in the the 130,000 acre
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
They also hope to establish the world's only free-ranging and self-sustaining integrated pride of white and tawny lions in the wild.
The white lions, once indigenous to the nearby Timbavarti region, had all been removed for their own protection from poachers over 30 years ago and have since been confined to living and breeding in captivity.
To see a self-sustaining white lion family out in the wild was unheard of - but the lions have now been reintroduced into their natural habitat, hunting for themselves and mating in the wild for the first time since the 1970's.
The striking images show the pride living and behaving naturally in the reserve, bringing fresh hope that these beautiful creatures can sustain themselves in the wild once again.
Hope for the future: Two of the white lion cubs trot through the grass
Paul Vorster, wildlife manager at the reserve, who managed the ambitious five-year project, said: "There is a local belief that the white lions appear in times of great hardship, and they bring good luck with them, surely a good omen for everyone at this time.
"To see a family of adult white lions in the wild that are self-sustaining and free-ranging is unheard of.
"In these photos the white lions are showing natural lion behaviour, displaying differing levels of curiosity and we all know how cats are associated with curiosity.
"Another obvious message that comes from the images is the strong bond between members of the pride.
"This is demonstrated by the close proximity of the father to the cubs. These actions are aimed to strengthen this bond.
Company: A male white lion with a young female white lion
"In the photos the dominance of the male is obvious. His stately and proud stance staking his claim to his female, his cubs and his territory.
"To watch young lions teasing, stalking and playfully chasing each other in the early morning sun is quite something, especially unusual when they are white and in the wild."
The white lion family - including two adult males, two juvenile female lions and five cubs - now roam freely in the semi-arid 120,000 acre Sanbone Wildlife Reserve.
"Since we released them they have being fending for themselves - it's fantastic," added Mr Vorster.
"There was great concern as to how the lions, especially the females, would fit into their new environment.
"They adapted quickly however and worked out the location of optimum resources fairly soon after their release.
All in the family: A female white lion with two white male cubs
"When these lions arrived they were completely humanised and relied on us for so many things. To see their white offspring fending for themselves, having broken down the dependency and bond between man and lion is very satisfying.
"What we are actually doing is securing the white lion gene in a safe natural environment where the animals can roam free".
The Sanbona white lion project has created an integrated pride of white and tawny lions that can sustain themselves in a completely natural environment.
Mr Vorster hailed the project as an 'astounding success' adding: "It's definitely an unbelievable achievement".
"To 're-wild' lions that have had such close contact with humans is by no means an exact science," he added.
"The fact that 18-month-old lionesses, that have not experienced much freedom until recently, are self-sustaining is close to unbelievable and pleasantly shocking".
"It's been a long journey so to have the level of success that we've had is great."
Paul Gardiner, International Marketing Director, The Mantis Collection, said: "The Mantis Collection has been involved in the re-wildling of degraded farmland in South Africa for the past 15 years.
"We have an established Wildlife Department which has been instrumental in turning back the clock in the Western Cape of South Africa and reintroducing the rightful wild animals that once roamed the plains 200 years ago.
"Over £2.25million worth of wildlife has been returned to the reserve over a period of 5 years. Further restocking and land rehabilitation continues."
Will Traver, CEO of wildlife charity Born Free, said: "This project is now restoring rare but naturally-occurring white lions to a wild and free life. That has got to be good news at a time when lions across much of Africa are in serious trouble.
"The continental population has fallen from an estimated 100,000 individuals just 30 years ago to perhaps 25,000 today.
"Large, well-protected areas like Sanbona, established by the Mantis Collection, can help secure wild lion populations for the long-term."
Founded in 2000, Mantis has won many accolades and honours including The World Travel Awards for the Leading Conservation Company and Leading Safari and Game Reserve, British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow, The Terra Nova Award, Harpers and Queen 100 Best Places to visit and 25 local and international awards.
Pictured: Rare images of the beautiful white lions that have gone back to the wild | Mail Online