A pain in the grass…

6 03 2012

Wednesay (29th) we joined the pride on the border of Tsavo and Kulibe in what is probably the only clearing left in the site. It was a quiet day – apart from one rather inappropriate move Loma pulled on Leya.

Later in the week they were in Kariba. We spent an entertaining two hours with the only visible part of any of the lions being Kela’s bottom. After breakfast however, things livened up a bit. As we arrived we found them all sitting under a bush watching a guinea fowl in the tree above them that was screeching its head off. After several minutes, the lions had lost interest and the bird eventually seemed to calm down (no doubt its being up a tree had something to do with the seven lions) and flew to the ground about 30 metres past the lions.

The bird then proceeded to continue its calling whilst walking back in the direction of the lions. Rusha finally roused herself from the bush and peered around a tree to watch as it waddled closer. As it then turned off in a different direction still advertising its position louder than was wise, Rusha began to follow. She seemed to get to within 10 metres of it before losing it in the grass and returning to the pride.

Monday (5th) and after stopping by one of the lions’ recent feeding sites, we tracked their signals down to a bush on the edges of Bwizu and Chobe. No matter which side we came from the lions couldn’t be seen, so we decided to check water levels at the three pans. Returning to the bush on the off-chance the lions had moved out of it we found that now their signals weren’t even emitting from the area. But we were able to follow some rather fresh prints to their new location at pan 2. But they were no more visible here either.

Luckily Kela saved the day by sitting just within sight, but the rest we could only listen to as they shuffled around in the grass. A brief glimpse of Temi and an even briefer one of Kwandi helped pass the afternoon, but we spent the session watching Kela as she enjoyed the afternoon breeze.


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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