Doves and Friendships
April 5 2017

Over the past couple of weeks, the changing of seasons has become apparent.  A chill is definitely being felt in the air during morning research.  The Dambwa pride seems to have noticed this weather change too; the LE sub-adults in particular being more active during research sessions.

Early one morning, the pride was found resting in one of their favourite areas within the Sibaka region of the reserve.  They seemed alert but calm, with LE1 and LE3 lying down facing each other and pawing each other in the face.  Suddenly, LE2 got up and quickly approached two doves that were feeding on the ground nearby. Aware of the young lioness, the birds took flight and sought safety in a nearby tree.  Undeterred, LE2 ran to the tree, pausing at the base to gaze up and assess the situation.  After assuming a crouching position, she sprung up into the tree.  However, she seemed to misjudge exactly how high up the birds were.  The doves, never close to danger, flew away.  Still clinging to the tree, LE2 watched the birds make their escape, before ungraciously sliding back down the trunk. While birds are a difficult target, LE2 continues to show the research team that no matter how challenging the prey is, it is always worth a try!

Hunting doves: LE2 at the beginning of her accent into the tree, and then discovering the doves have flown away

The slow sliding decent back to the ground, better luck next time LE2!

The research team has also observed that the bonds between the sub-adult males continues to grow.  While LE1 and LE3 have been observed to be quite playful with each other, LE1 has also been quick to approach all sub-adult females and RS2, and even dared to try and get a sleeping Zulu to play.  This is like playing with fire, as you never know how Zulu is going to react!  This cheeky sub-adult male has even recently got Rusha to join in on a game of chase.  However, these bursts of play behaviour are seemingly exhausting, and usually result in all involved settling down and assuming a resting position after only a couple of minutes.  The research team continues to see the sub-adult males of the pride selecting positions close to each other, indicating that the bonds between these pride members remains strong and continues to grow.

RS2 and LE1 grooming and yawning: Brothers in arms… well, brothers in resting!


About the Dambwa Lion Release Site

The 6 adults (1 male and 5 females) of the ‘Dambwa Pride’ were captive born and released into the ‘Dambwa Lion Release Site’ in 2011, having been walked in the rehabilitation phase of the ex situ conservation project, the African Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Programme.  The pride’s 6 offspring (3 male and 3 females) were born in the site and have had no human contact, display natural behaviours, and are intended for release into the wild in the final phase of the Programme.

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