Zulu strolls in to take his rightful place in the Dambwa pride

11 12 2011

 

The rains that delayed our efforts on Saturday had cleared.  The ground had hardened sufficiently and the Lion Encounter Zambia / ALERT team headed out to Dambwa under a bright, but overcast sky.  The plan itself was simple; open the gate to Zulu’s management enclosure and lead him through a fenced area (+- 35 acres) to the gate and then into the release site itself.  This did of course rely on Zulu wanting to follow us and the Dambwa girls not choosing that exact moment to move to sit by the gate.

All started well and Zulu came out of the management enclosure after only a few moments hesitation.  The girls were some distance away.

Then it started to rain.  Heavily.  Very heavily.  Zulu got to within a few metres of the release site gate and the team were thinking that we were going to get a hole in one, so to speak, before rushing to the nearest shelter.  Straight forward, no fuss, no hassle.  But of course life, and lions, never quite have the same idea. It was at this point that Zulu spotted a waterbuck that it turns out was in the fenced area between the management enclosure and the release site.  And Zulu went for it.  After some 10 minutes of us trying to work out where he was we spotted him, jaws wrapped around the waterbuck’s neck which he broke in one swift movement.  The guy has still got it going on!

Of course now we had a lion with a large meal and still some 200m from the gate we need him to move through to get into the release site.  But at least the heavy shower had ended.  Now as many people may know, Zulu is quite scared of vehicles and as we drove towards the kill he quickly moved off around 50m allowing us to tie the waterbuck to the back of the truck; the plan being to drag it through the gate with Zulu following; job done!.

Not quite so straight forward in practice.  It started well.  We dragged, Zulu followed, some 30m behind.  We got to the fence line of the release site and had only around 75m along it to go before we got to the gate.  At this point a torrent of water fell from the sky that simply cannot be described in words.  In seconds we were stuck in thick black mud.  And that is when the girl’s decided to arrive to investigate the commotion.

This might sound bad, but in fact their arrival worked in our favour.  It only took a few moments to unstick the vehicle and we quickly drove through the gate into the release area and were able to untie the waterbuck before six hungry girls descended upon it.  Zulu, whose interest was already piqued by the carcass, now also had the enticement of six females with who he had shared much of his life to date but had not seen for a while.  He made his way to the gate; and stalled.

Sitting in belting rain with lightening striking all around us we thought that, at the last moment, Zulu would bottle it and return to his enclosure.  It was Loma who left the carcass to go out of the release site and into the fenced area to greet Zulu by, well, jumping on him excitedly.  She waggled her tail as she returned to the kill and it was all too much for Zulu to resist.

Just before 1pm on Sunday 11th December 2011 Zulu walked through the release site gate of his own accord and into a new life as head of the Dambwa pride.  He joined the females at the carcass where he sat patiently to one side whilst the girls started to tuck in; his mane lying flat under the weight of water from an almost unimaginable amount of rain.

We wish the now complete pride every success and look forward to bringing you the next instalment in the life of this pioneering lion pride (rain permitting)

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2 responses

12 12 2011
Coda (Home Is Where You Get Across) « Africa or Bust!

[…] the pride’s lionesses – Kela, Kwandi, Leya, Loma, Rusha, and Temi – have finally been introduced to their own king: Zulu.  Congratulations, Dambwa!  All hail King […]

12 12 2011
mac12attack

This is such great news. I wonder if there are going to be any more release pirdes in the neer future. oh by the way, why so many more followers all of a sudden?

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