Like Father, Like Son
August 23 2017

Recently, the Dambwa pride research team has been witnessing RS2 maturing quickly.  The male lion is now easily distinguishable by his mane.  As male lions grow, their mane development can be rapid.  RS2 recently turned four years of age, becoming an adult, and his burgeoning mane is making him look more and more like his dad, Zulu.  The mane on his forehead is still thinner than Zulu’s, but on his chest, throat, and neck, it is quickly becoming similar in thickness and colour.  Adding to the resemblance is the grey tinge to both lions’ coats, forcing the research team to check twice to ensure each is identified correctly when the pride is resting in a sleepy puddle!

Like father, like son: Zulu and RS2 show off the family resemblance

This month, the research team have spotted plenty of birdlife within the Dambwa release site.  Species such as fork-tailed drongos, swallow-tailed bee-eaters, and even the occasional pearl spotted owlet have been seen - or at least heard - near the pride.  The only birds the lions have been interested in though are vultures, spending much of their time intently watching hooded vultures, white backed vultures, and the occasional marabou stork circling overhead. On August 14th during a morning research session, Kela, Leya, Zulu, and LE3’s eyes were locked on a group of vultures circling nearby.  Kela and Leya both rose to their feet and sat in anticipation of a potential meal.  After five minutes of waiting patiently, they decided there was no food to be scavenged after all and returned to rest, comically flopping to the ground at the exact same time and with the exact same movements.  The pride rested in the sunshine for the remainder of the day at one of their favourite places within the Kariba area of the site.   

A swallow-tailed bee-eater

The act of watching vultures confirms to the research team that the behaviour of the pride is natural and instinctual, indicating the capacity to utilise this skill to locate food.  In the wild, lions follow large numbers of circling and roosting vultures to locate a scavenge; a substantial source of food for a pride.

Leya and LE3 on vulture watch

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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