Wondering Where the Lions Are
On the 20thof October the research team arrived into the Dambwa lion release site on a crisp morning. The lions had recently been given a scavenging opportunity, meaning they could be hiding in the thickets trying to sleep off their meal. After driving around with the telemetry in hand and on full power, the lions were proving to be difficult to find this particular morning. The signals of their collars were transmitting in different areas of the site, implying that the pride was split up into sub-groups. After checking near the water pans to see if any were taking a drink a signal grew stronger for Loma and Kwandi near the boundary road in the Kariba area. The signal was coming from the thickets in the corner of the area where it is impossible to drive, however, the research team did see an ear flicker.
After a break for breakfast the team returned to the same area to discover Loma, Kwandi, Rusha, RS1 and RS3, now out in the open. After collecting the necessary data for this sub-group the team went on a search for the rest of the pride. A promising collar signal led to the Sibaka area where the rest of the pride were found under a tree, resting and sleeping off their meal from the previous day. Zulu was in the middle with LE1 and LE3 next to him. Leya and Kela were together a little distance away, and RS2 was with LE2 under another shrub a further few meters away.
Whilst taking data on the group an animal appeared ahead of the lions; a lone puku. The research team watched to see if the lions would notice the puku, or if the puku would notice the sleeping lions in front of her! The puku however seemed more interested in the stationary research vehicle than the large predators that lay before her; watching carefully, as if she were not sure what to make of it. Some ten minutes passed before she started to move off. The lions were sound asleep and unaware of the opportunity that was close by. Maybe they were dreaming of puku. Little would they know that their dream could have potentially come true if just one of them had popped an eye open!
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.