With the trees and grass growing immensely over the rainy season, the Dambwa release site has become a hidden paradise, meaning that the research team has to play hide and seek with the pride during nearly every research session. Their hiding places can be so different each time, that the team has started competing to guess where the lions will be located upon entering the site.
On the 9th of April, the team entered the release site and started driving through the long spear grass. Upon passing patches of flattened grass, indicating where the pride had been resting, there was still no visual of the lions. They checked all of the usual resting spots and still nothing. Not knowing where the pride could be, the team continued to follow the roads around the site until a small pair of tawny coloured ears popped up between some trees in a big thicket area. While a GPS location was being taken, another face popped up, followed by another, and another! Now that several pride members could be observed, the team got to work taking down data.
45 minutes later, a rustling of branches and leaves was heard, as LE3 emerged from his hiding place into the warmth of the sun. Shortly after, Leya followed suit. Flopping onto her back, she soaked up some sunshine, before returning to rest next to Rusha in the shade of the dense thicket. Eventually, LE2 appeared and greeted her brother. RS1 remained hidden a little longer, watching from inside the thicket, until finally she too made her way out into the sun.
LE3 soaking up the sun
LE2 squinting in the sunshine
RS1 in the thickets
LE3, RS1 and LE2 finally in full view
This has become a habit for the pride; hiding in dense thickets, so that the research team only has a visual of one or two members, until others decide to move into the sunshine, or roll over in the long grass to expose their paws pointing up into the air. Luckily, our researchers usually win these games of hide and seek - eventually!
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.
Support the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Programme
- To make a donation or to fundraise on our behalf click here.
- To meet the pride as a volunteer, intern or facilitated research student click here.