The research team assess the Dambwa Pride every few months to see if there is a change in associations amongst the lions, or a change in preference. It seems in the past six months there has been a shift in friends not only by observation, but the data shows it as well. For some time, Zulu preferred to sit next to Kwandi and vice versa. During the research sessions, the team would witness Zulu weaving in and out of the sleeping lions to sit next to his number one lady, Kwandi. Even she was seen often greeting Zulu and sitting next to him; passing the others to deliberately greet her man. However, times have changed and it seems like they have both moved on.
The gossip in the Dambwa Forest is that Zulu has a new favorite - Loma. By observation as well, the team has noticed the change in the recent few months. Zulu now deliberately sits next to Loma and she seems to enjoy the new attention, and returns the love. However, Rusha still likes to sit next to Loma, perhaps to steal Zulu for herself? Only time will tell! However, Kwandi, seems to be indifferent to the change and has moved on as well to sit next to her new best friend Leya, who returns the favour. Other new bonds on the rise include RS1 and RS2. For a while RS2 was good friends with LE2, seeing they were the ‘odd man out’ in both of their litters and that RS1 and RS3 were best friends. Even though RS3 still tends to be with RS1, RS1 and RS2 are starting to build a stronger bond. LE2 now associates with her brother LE1, whereas LE1 and LE3 still have a strong bond.
Preference changes amongst the lions all the time. Associations come and go, and bonds either become weaker or stronger. What depicts these changes is always intriguing. The team also analyses the social interaction data to see who receives more greets than initiating. This is a good indicator of higher ranking individuals, and it seems the sub-adult boys are on the rise. This could explain why Zulu has been a little hostile towards RS2 and LE3 in the recent past because they are starting to receive quite a few greets from the ladies! Zulu may have some competition, however, he is the boss and he doesn’t hesitate to remind his boys every once in a while.
Zulu and LE1
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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