Research Article Published by the Journal of Ethology
June 8 2016

ALERT, in association with Charles Sturt, Coventry and Melbourne Universities is pleased to announce that the Journal of Ethology has published an article entitled ‘Exploring African lion (Panthera leo) behavioural phenotypes: individual differences and correlations between sociality, boldness and behaviour’

Research undertaken by ALERT Facilitated Research Student, Emma Dunston, on our ‘Ngamo Release Pride’ looked at the behavioural responses to playbacks of pre-recorded vocalisations of unfamiliar conspecifics, competitive, and prey species to investigate boldness of a pride of captive-origin African lions, by recording individual behavioural responses to stimuli.

Behaviour, sociality and boldness are important factors that are likely to determine the post-release success of individuals and prides. By assessing these three aspects, we are able to further our understanding of the role of individuals within a pride. In addition, we aim to examine whether relationships, at a pride and individual level, exist between these behaviours. This will allow us to identify within-pride personalities, which, if found to be linked to post-release survival, will assist in future animal selection and management of ex situ reintroduction programs.”

Pride responses during playbacks was consistent with those observed in wild lions, suggesting that “captivity has not impacted upon the natural territorial and competitive responses of the pride to these stimuli.

On an individual level, some lions were seen as bold in defence of territory (Phyre and Kenge), but others were bolder when faced with the possibility of challenging hyena for food (Ashanti and Nala).  Phyre remains a keystone individual in terms of maintaining social cohesion within this pride.  These findings indicate individual differences between lions in terms of their behaviour and role within the pride; with important implications for ex situ reintroduction and wild-to-wild translocation programmes.

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