On a hazy morning of the 26th of July, the research team drove into the Dambwa release site to find the pride in a stand of trees in the Kariba area, where they were lying deep in the grass.
Leya was fitted with a new contraceptive implant just last month and hasn’t shown any signs of being in heat, yet the day before, the team noticed Zulu was covering her and was being extra grumpy. Leya moved to a shady spot with Zulu on her tail. He attempted to mount her, but she quickly swiped at him. He instantly backed off but then started to roar instead, with everyone chiming in. Once Zulu was finished roaring, he laid on top of LE1, who quickly got out of the way, running to his brother LE3 for moral support. When Kwandi then flopped down behind Zulu, his grumpiness was set off.
As quick as a flash, Zulu jumped up and chased all the lions away from Leya, but focused his grumpiness on poor Kela. He chased her about 20 metres where she cowered behind a tree, lying low and snarling, while Zulu stood imposingly over her. Once he felt he had made his point, Zulu let Kela be and went straight back to Leya, who seemed a bit nervous herself. A few minutes later, Kela attempted to come back, but looked very unsure and confused about the whole situation. She carefully walked around the research vehicle and made her way to the RS sub-adults, who were behind a nearby bush. Kela emerged a little from the bushes to lie next to her fellow pride members, but once Zulu spotted her, he stood up with purpose and she ran for it, which made everyone run in a frenzy! RS2 and LE3 know their father’s wrath well and decided to get ‘out of Dodge’ to lay low until he calmed down. After chasing the adult females away from Leya, Zulu finally settled next to his new favourite - who did not dare move an inch during his grumpy mood.
Zulu in a grump!
Kela keeping her distance
After the sudden excitement had died down, the research team started to head out of the site, finding RS1 and RS3 walking toward one of the water pans. The two sisters seemed like they wanted to get far away from the drama in the Kariba area, which the research team couldn’t blame them for!
RS1 and RS3 making themselves scarce
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.