Sniffing in the Wrong Direction
September 1 2016

On a warm morning in August, the research team entered the Dambwa Release Site to find the pride on the move in the Kariba area.  However, as the lions marched on, the team noticed that not all of them were present.  They waited a few moments to see if the others were straggling behind. 

Before long, a lion started to call nearby.  Waving grass gave away its location, before the lion made its way into the clearing.  It was LE1, roaring as best he could, between looking around to see if he could spot his family.  Sniffing the ground, he caught a scent of his pride members, but was convinced by this smell to head in the opposite direction.  

LE1 looking for his pride 

The team thought this was strange and followed the youngster.  As they arrived into the next clearing, they found LE1, LE2, LE3, and Kela lying together; all four fixated on some vultures flying nearby, but in no hurry to follow.

'Auntie' Kela



The team then drove to the other end of the Kariba area to see where the rest of the pride were.  They had settled in a familiar spot and were now spread around, soaking up the morning sun.  The team had a suspicion that Kela would bring the LE sub-adults to the rest of the pride by the end of the morning, but no-one came.

When the team drove back into the site later in the day, they thought for sure that the foursome would have reunited with the rest of the pride.  But no!  Both groups were still in their same spots where they were found earlier.  As the light faded, the lions continued to stay in their respective groups.  The team figured the LE sub-adults just wanted a relaxing day with Auntie Kela!

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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