We would like to update you on recent events concerning the wild lion that was being given sanctuary at Lion Encounter / ALERT in Livingstone Zambia, known as Dynamite aka Hero.
On 26th January 2012 a team comprising Dr Ian Parsons, Lion Encounter Zambia / ALERT, Mukuni Big Five and the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) captured a wild lion that had been designated as a “problem animal” in the Nsongwe area of Livingstone. The lion was darted and moved to Lion Encounter’s secure facility in the Dambwa Forest. On 3rd February 2012 Wild Cru researcher Brent Stapelkamp arrived in Livingstone and successfully downloaded the data from the lion’s collar, confirming his identity as “Dynamite”, and his origin as being from the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Dynamite was born in 2002 and was originally in a coalition of seven when he left his natal pride. Over the following years that coalition was reduced to four, and three of those were killed in snares. As the sole remaining member of the coalition he took over the group’s name, Dynamite, with his core area around the Gwayi. He lost his pride tenure in 2011 to two younger males then disappeared, resurfacing in Livingstone on 22nd January 2012.
As soon as the lion entered Zambia it became the property of the Republic of Zambia, under the jurisdiction of ZAWA. With the lion’s identity established ZAWA contacted the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) to discuss the next course of action. In May ZPWMA requested further information on the lion, which was provided, and in July ZPWMA sent a team of ecologists to Livingstone to see the lion and prepare reports to inform their decision making process. In late October ZAWA informed us that it was their intention to translocate Dynamite to Kafue National Park. On 6th November we were informed that ZAWA would be sending a team to Livingstone the following day to dart the lion for his journey to Kafue, where he would be released and monitored by existing teams operating in the Park. Lion Encounter were thanked for having financed the capture of the lion and for his care during his time in captivity.
We have since learned that Dynamite died in transit before he reached Kafue National Park. We have every faith that ZAWA did everything possible to safely translocate Dynamite and to save him once things deteriorated. We are saddened beyond words that Dynamite was not able to enjoy his final days in the wilds of Kafue.