Playbacks and long grass…
July 7 2017

While the dry season is now in full swing, you could assume that it would be easier for the research team to locate and research the lions.  On the morning of the 20th of June, the research team entered the site and as they followed the signals for the adults, they almost missed LE1 sitting just off the road in the long grass.  While LE1 did not move a muscle to give away his position, knowing the release site very well and seeing a shape that is not normally located in this spot allowed the team to spot him… just!  As the majority of the research that is collected on the pride is behavioural, being able to see the lions is an important aspect of research.  

LE1 in the long grass: Look closely and you will see the shape of a lion!

Over the past few months, the research team has been joined by two Facilitated Research Students; Emma Sopelsa-Hall from Sweden was with the program in April/May and Courtney Kamyk from the US is currently with the program until August.  They have been conducting playbacks (recordings of animal vocalisations) and collecting individual responses of the pride to complete dissertations for their undergraduate courses.  This has also provided the research team the perfect opportunity to study lion boldness.  By conducting these tests, the research team is hoping to see if there are members of the pride that are important in certain situations; for territorial defense against unfamiliar lions, during hunts, or during competitive responses towards hyena and leopards, for example.  While it is too early to predict the outcomes of the research, the pride has been responsive to both territorial and competitive playbacks, with some individuals showing a consistency in their responses.  Stay tuned to find out what this research will tell us! 

The pride sitting up from a resting position after hearing a playback (zebra alarm calls)

Clearly, some members of the pride are more interested than others! 

Lastly, on the 21st of June, the RS sub-adults (RS1, RS2 and RS3) turned a big four years!  While they are now classed as adults, as the past few weeks have shown, they are still some ways off from behaving like it!  It has been exciting for the research team to follow these youngsters from cubs to adults, and the team looks forward to the journey ahead with these charismatic lions!

RS1 and RS2 


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.

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