Something in the Air
June 14 2016

On a cool mid-morning on the 12th of June, the pride was found in the Chisamu area of the Dambwa Lion Release Site, resting in some thickets.  Zulu caught a scent on the air and headed toward the Sahara area of the site; pausing to sniff every few metres.  The rest of the pride took interest in what their fearless leader was tracking and soon followed.  LE2 and LE3, however, were slow to rise as they seemed not entirely sure they wanted to abandon their nice shady spot.

When the wind changed direction, Zulu appeared to lose the scent.  He, along with the rest of the pride, settled in a patch of shade, but LE2 and LE3 continued to sense something.  For a good ten minutes the pair raised their noses to the wind.  LE3, clearly deciding that something needed closer investigation, set off into the thicket, with LE2 following behind.  The pair soon returned however, seemingly unable to find the source of the scent.

As they ambled back to the pride, Zulu stood up tensely, eyeballing the two walking toward him.  LE3 stopped dead in his tracks and slunk to the ground dismissively.  The research team has seen Zulu putting LE3 in his place recently, so there was definitely tension in the air, even if the pride could not locate the other scents. The smaller LE2 continued to approach Zulu, playfully bounding toward him.  Zulu greeted his daughter, following behind her as she approached the dozing pride.  Father and daughter soon found a place to nap amongst the sleepy pride.  With the coast clear, young LE3 quietly walked over to join his mother.

All appeared quiet for a while, until the wind changed direction again.  Leya yawned, stretched, greeted Loma and Kela, then took a long sniff.  The scent attracted Zulu’s attention again and he joined Leya, both sniffing intently.  Hence, another journey began; this time heading towards the Kariba area.  The whole pride, one by one, followed the two leaders to their new destination, stopping every few metres to sniff the ever-changing air. 

Whether the pride ever discovered the source of the scent, we will never know.  What we can tell is that our pride’s noses are always alert to the signs of opportunity wafting on the breeze.

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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