Four days until release…

22 08 2011

The Dambwa Pride will be observed by researcher Jacqui Kirk in exactly the same way as we have been doing with the Ngamo Pride.  Research seeks to collect data on a range of behaviours with a view to making comparisons to wild lions and to the Ngamo pride that were released in September 2010.

The behaviours on which data will be collected fall into 5 broad categories:

1. Hunting behaviour will be recorded of kills made as well as during any hunts observed.  This will enable analysis on whether kill rates and average daily feed intake is comparable to wild prides whilst data on the species killed will also enable analysis of prey selection and other parameters of hunting success (e.g. whether kills are most often made of animals of a certain age class or gender).  Other observation will enable assessment of hunting style and co-operative functions within the pride.

2. Social behaviours between pride members will enable an analysis of dominance systems operating as well as identifying kinships between pride members.  We will look at social interactions of various types, associative behaviours as well as movement and following behaviours.

3.  Territorial behaviours will be observed in two ways to determine whether, despite the lack of competitive prides or species, the released pride perform territorial displays as would be expected in a wild pride.  We shall look at scent marking, and roaring behaviours.

4. Reproductive behaviours can only be recorded following the release of a male into the area at a later date

5. Other data will also be collected to improve our understanding of the behaviours of the released lions.  Whilst it is difficult to predict what such observations will include, they shall include health assessments through body condition scoring, identification of core pride range and activity budgets as well reactions to non-wild elements with which they come into contact, such as the research vehicle.

If the pride behaves as a wild pride does we can be more assured that cubs born to the pride at a later stage will be raised naturally and with the same survival opportunities as wild cubs.

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