Pre-release monitoring for ex-situ reintroduction
January 25 2016

The journal Current Zoology has published an analysis of the social networks and cohesion of our Dambwa and Ngamo release prides, as compared to a wild lion pride.  The paper builds on our previous article in PlosOne on the Ngamo pride, using this novel application of social network analysis to lions. 

The lead author, Emma Dunston, is one of our former Facilitated Research students, who is completing her PhD.  The eight co-authors represent ALERT, Charles Sturt University, Coventry University, University of Melbourne, and the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve.

The study indicated that the two captive-origin prides had formed cohesive social units and possessed relationships and behaviours comparable with the wild pride, for the studied behaviours.  Any differences were observed to occur at the individual level, where the social involvement of a particular individual, sex or age group differed slightly between the prides.

The authors conclude that “captivity does not impede upon the ability of a pride to become socially cohesive, nor an individual being able to express normal social behaviour if pre-release training, and environmental conditions facilitate adaptive natural behaviours and experiences.

About the Ngamo Lion Release Site

The 6 adults (1 male and 5 females) of the ‘Ngamo Pride’ were captive born and released into the ‘Ngamo Lion Release Site’ in 2010, 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 5 offspring (1 male and 4 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.

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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