What goes up must come down
October 25 2017

On the 7th of October, the research team entered the Dambwa release site with scattered clouds in the sky and the sun peeking out periodically.  The team arrived on a road between the Kariba and Sibaka areas of the site to find a puddle of lions resting under a tree.  Kela and Leya were meandering through the previous day’s scavenge area and LE1 was asleep in the intermittent sun.  The aroma filling the air that morning was not that of leftover meat, but the smell of the earth after overnight rain; the first since the start of the dry season.

Kela moved through the scavenge area carefully to make sure she didn’t miss any scraps without claiming them for herself.  Meanwhile, Leya had already found herself a small piece and was hiding in the long grass.  After a few minutes, Kela moved off to quench her thirst, marching through the long spear grass towards Water Pan Three.  Leya began to follow, only to return a minute later, having obviously decided that she would much rather feed than risk leaving any morsels behind.  Proving that scavenging runs in the family, she was soon joined in her search by LE1 and LE2!  After alternating between feeding and resting, the lions eventually took up their places under one of the few trees in the area that still provided sufficient shade.

LE2 with her share of the leftovers

LE1 chews on some leftover skin

The clouds had parted by now and the sun was shining down, drying any remnants of the previous night’s rain.  All seemed calm and restful until LE1 suddenly jumped to his feet.  A chameleon had fallen from the tree above him, right in front of his nose.  LE1 was a little confused by the creature and started to paw at it as it walked back towards the tree.  He watched intently, swiping his paw and jumping with excitement until the chameleon began to climb up the tree trunk.  Unsure of what to do next, LE1 wandered around the tree a few times, not knowing which direction to come at it from.  As the chameleon continued to climb, he moved his nose in a little too closely and jumped backwards in fright.  Quickly gaining confidence to go in for another close look, LE1 realised he was not going to stop the chameleon from climbing and lost interest, returning to his resting position to resume his slumber.

LE1 investigates the chameleon

The chameleon starts to climb back up the tree

LE2 gets a shock!


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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