Losing teeth

16 07 2011

With the temperature picking up slightly, Friday (15th) was quite a relaxed day for the Ngamo pride.

As our research team entered the site they first came across Athena and AT1 on a zebra kill in the Amboseli area. However Athena was not happy with the presence of the vehicle, snarling and growling as the team approached.  She has been limping quite badly over the past couple of days and probably felt slightly vulnerable and defensive because of this and therefore did not want the vehicle close to her or her cub. The team quickly moved away from the area and left mother and daughter alone for the remainder of the day.

The rest of the pride was located in a shady patch of open woodland in Hwange and belly size suggested that they had also probably fed on the carcass that Athena and AT1 were on.

Unfortunately it seems that Ashanti did not conceive when mating with Milo after the death of ASM1. She has come back in to heat and spent the majority of the day resting and mating with Milo again.

Another troubling aspect for us is the state of Ashanti’s teeth.  Whilst released at Dollar Block one of her upper canines was lost and the other very worn.  By the time she was released into Ngamo she had also lost one of her lower canines.  It would appear from this image that she has now also lost the other lower canine leaving her with only one very worn canine of the four she originally had.  Whilst she is clearly in good shape and is able to adjust to this dental issue we do have concerns that she is compromised in terms of her hunting ability as the canines are important in making the kill.  At feeding she is aggressive enough to get her fair share and it is the back teeth that are used more to rip meat from bone which would account for her strong health.  Thank goodness for the pride structure that is unique to lions that enables individuals to thrive even with these issues as other members pick up the slack.

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