In the thicket of it
June 28 2016

This month, the time had come for three of the lions, Loma, Leya and Rusha, to have their contraceptive implants renewed, to prevent further breeding in the Dambwa Release site, and to update their vaccinations. 

Once the vet arrived on site, he and the research team entered the release area to find the pride basking in the afternoon sun in the Kariba area.  Loma, being a naturally skittish lion around vehicles anyway, definitely recognises the vet’s vehicle, and started to slink away into the grass for cover.  However, that didn’t stop the vet who, with one quick shot, was able to dart Loma in the shoulder just before she disappeared into a thicket. The next target was Rusha, who seemed to be waiting for her turn with the rest of the sub-adults wondering what was going on.  Again, one quick shot and Rusha was darted in the thigh and she too made her way for cover in the thicket.  The rest of the pride moved off, but not too far, so they could keep an eye on things.



With two lions darted, the team made their move to do the necessary work quickly.  The vet injected a new contraceptive implant in between the shoulder blades and administered vaccines in the shoulder of each sleeping lioness.  While he was doing his work, the research team was taking measurements of legs, total body length, paw size, and canines.  Within minutes, the work was done and the vet administered the reversal, before setting off to find Leya. 

Luckily, Leya was found quickly, resting with Kwandi under their favorite tree.  Leya is smart, but not smart enough to avoid the vet’s well aimed dart gun!  She hid herself behind the tree and tried to wait us out, but once again the vet made one quick shot, into Leya’s thigh.  She too made her way to the same thickets where the other two had retreated, but by now were already back with the rest of the pride.


All three lions had been dealt with in under an hour, and the trio were quickly back on their paws.  But it won’t be long before the vet returns to deal with Kela and Kwandi, who are due their date with the vet in September.

The vet at work fitting a new contraceptive implant 

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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