Family planning
February 25 2013

On the 20th we carried out our plans to administer AT1, Ashanti and Kenge with a contraceptive implant as a population control measure. With AT1 now 2 years old, the next six months may see her come into heat, and with Kenge and Ashanti’s cubs also reaching the age of 18 months within that time, it is quite possible that Ashanti and Kenge may begin their oestrus cycle again soon and also come into heat. As Milo is father of AT1 it is vitally important that steps are taken to prevent any in-breeding amongst the pride. The continual breeding of Ashanti and Kenge with Milo is a natural reproductive cycle which would occur in any wild pride. However, the carrying capacity of the Ngamo release area is unlikely to sustain the addition of any more lions at this time. In the wild, lions will supress conception should there be a lack of resources to provide for all individuals. With the Ngamo release area being a fenced environment, it is vital to maintain the balance between the number of lions and prey availability. The implants will provide the girls with contraception for 18 months by which time it is hoped the females will have been released into stage 3 and breeding will then resume. 

The team gets to work on the sedated lionesses

The research and veterinarian teams entered the site early in the morning and as AT1, Ashanti and Kenge rested in the shade with Narnia and the cubs they were darted one by one with a sedative. Once they were was safely moved to a management area the teams got to work inserting the contraceptive implant, performing general health checks and collecting relevant samples and data for their records.  All three procedures went extremely smoothly and once the girls were placed in a quiet shady area they were administered the reversal drugs and the research team observed each lioness as she made a full recovery.  By the end of the day the girls had reunited with their female pride members and they relaxed upon rocks in the Serengeti East area of the site as the sun set on an eventful day. 

A rare opportunity to perform health checks on members of the pride; the condition of Kenge's teeth are checked

Measurements from the lions were also taken, including paw pad length and width

And chest girth which can be used to estimate weight


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