C.S.I. Ngamo

20 06 2011

During our research sessions in Ngamo we make a habit of counting game numbers when and where we spot herds on our routes to find the lions. This helps us maintain a general idea of how many animals are within Ngamo at any one time and how many may have met their fate unbeknown to us.

Almost every month when conducting our game count numerous impala are unaccounted for. With lions mostly active at night many successful kills are made under nightfall and more than often our 8 lions polish of 45kgs of impala in a matter of minutes leaving little evidence by dawn.

In the case of larger game species such as zebra we often will find the pride feeding upon a carcass over a 2-3 day period.

Recently we have observed numerous successful zebra kills in Ngamo and the lions feasting for days on end. We’ve observed and recorded 8 zebra kills so far this month, yet visuals of the resident zebra herds have indicated one to be missing. We’ve witnessed in the past stallions wondering from the herd and eventually returning a day or so later, but by the 18th June the numbers still did not add up…

Vultures were seen in the Hwange/Serengeti area residing over the latest recorded kill though some appeared to have spotted something else deeper in the open grass plains. We attempted to investigate driving into the bush and keeping a watchful eye out for areas of flattened grass, drag marks, game trails, body parts, etc…but still nothing.

Eventually our efforts on the beat were terminated for the day and we proceeded to the nearest exit gate. Passing through the Serengeti East area our researcher suddenly slammed on the breaks in the fading afternoon light. Disturbed soil across the road…scattered faeces in the grass…drag marks…the evidence was mounting. We peered over the eerie darkening plains and a shape seemed to appear. As our eyes adjusted the stripes soon became bolder to reveal a mangled zebra carcass. There was little left to show for what we presumed was a sub-adult zebra and the remains indicated the kill to have been made some time ago. But who was the culprit? And when was such a kill made?? The plot thickened…

With interviews out of the question we returned to the office to look over past data of the lions’ locations and times. Our notes indicated signal was obtained for Ashanti and Kwali from the 11th on wards in Hwange presumably by Ashanti’s den. 2 zebra kills the same day put Kenge in the Valley area and Athena with daughter AT1 in Tree Tops. A kill on the 12th kept Nala and Narnia busy for the following few days. This leaves us with suspects Milo and Phyre. As many of you may know these two are not always admired for their hunting ability, but all the same suspicion remains high and the case is still open…

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