The one that got away
July 2 2018

On the 12th of June, the Dambwa Pride was peacefully resting next to Water Pan Three, having had a morning of constant changes as to where they would like to take rest.  The morning session of research saw the lions move from the Kariba area to the Sanga Boundary and back to Kariba again.  Between the morning and midday sessions, the pride moved again to rest at one of the site’s watering holes.  There, the lions took turns in drinking at the water pan then resting again in the shade of a large tree.  With such a wide area of shade, they didn’t need to rest their legs and heads on top of each other as they usually do.

Loma, Rusha, Kwandi, Leya, and LE1 sprawled out at Water Pan Three

At 12:19pm, Kwandi, Leya, LE2 and LE3 quickly raised their heads in vigilance towards a patch of grass 10 meters away.  Just as the research team turned to look at what they could possibly be watching, Loma jumped to her feet.  Taking two steps forward in a stalking position, shoulders raised and head lowered, she ran and pounced onto the grass patch.  The research team were still unaware of what the fuss was all about, although it seemed as if there may had been a kill.  The same thought had obviously occurred to RS1 too, as she approached Loma, standing a metre away waiting inquisitively to see if she if she would be lucky enough to have any leftovers.

Loma and her mystery object

RS1 watches intently before making her approach

RS1 wanting a piece of what Loma has found 

RS1 tried to smell Loma, as well as the object held tightly between her front paws that she was intently licking.  Everyone else in the pride was vigilant towards Loma, but remained in their shady position, watching from a distance.  Loma’s tight grasp didn’t last long though, as the object wriggled free and made a dash for the safety of long grass.  The tail shape, body size and warning calls from the lucky creature informed the research team that a mongoose had been the cause of the ruckus.  Loma refused to let it get away and gave chase, although she was no match for the quick agility of the mongoose.  Catching a fleeting glimpse of the prey, Rusha approached, but with noticeably less determination knowing it was a waste of energy. 

After searching the grass, Loma returned to the scene and began smelling the area where the mongoose had been.  Nothing remained, so she retired to the shade of the tree to rest with the others.  As the thrill of the chase subsided, the research team realised that all of this had occurred in only three minutes.  The pride was quick to rest after a failed kill.  As it goes, lion hunts are only successful 20 percent of the time, so with success must come failure!

Loma smells the area for traces of the mongoose

LE2, Kwandi and Leya settle back down to rest


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.
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