Water works

17 09 2011

On Wednesday (14th September) the pride were awarded with a renovated waterhole three.  This was much needed, as we had noticed that the water was evaporating away too quickly in this hot dry season.  All the lions appeared extremely happy with their new drinking spot, which somewhat resembles a luxury swimming pool in scale.  Kwali was the first to check it out as she jumped in, closely followed (and stalked) by AT1.  All the pride soon came to drink, some who quenched their thirst for over 10 minutes – it’s like they’ve never tasted water before!

AT1 has been once again trying to suckle without much success.  In the afternoon she attempted to grab a milky meal but was rejected numerous times – much to her discontent!  She voiced her disgruntled opinions with a high-pitched growl to the amusement of the researchers.

By the morning of Thursday (15th September) Milo had a fresh carcass in Hwange which he tried to hide away under a dense thicket from the bothersome crows and vultures circling overhead.  He even plucked up the energy to run after the pesky feathered fiends as they dipped down to nab a morsel.   A few moments later Kenge caught scent of the decaying flesh and made a beeline for the carcass, with a parade of females on her tail.  Kwali and AT1 looked on with hope as the more dominant females got their fill.  Eventually, after the rest of the pride got their fill Kwali and AT1 were able to feed.  By the end of the day, all lions had rounded bellies and were resting off their dinner.


Location, Location, Location

2 06 2011

Each time the lions are observed we take note of their location.  We do the same when we are able to confirm the location of a kill.

This first map shows where the lions have been spending their time.  We can see that unsurprisingly the three waterholes are favoured, especially waterhole two in the centre of the site.  So are locations that give a view into Antelope Park.  This is because plenty of prey species roaming around the Park are visible from the release site and was to be expected given the limited funding available to us to provide a larger release area and more plentiful prey within it.

We know that the lions often take a route from Amboseli to waterhole two and then in a diagonal path through Serengeti East, along the south of Hwange to get to The Valley area and this is reflected in the mapping.  The very open grass area of Masai Mara and Serengeti West and much of Hwange are frequented less due to the lack of shade in these areas.

Our second map shows known kill locations with symbols denoting the species killed at that location.  The big problem with this data is that for smaller animals, such as impala and duiker or steenbok we very rarely locate the kill site as the animal is consumed so quickly and very little remains afterwards.  These species are also most often found in the densest parts of the site and, presumably, are most likely killed in those areas as well, making it even harder to find any carcass. We know a kill has occurred because game counts tells us what animals are missing and of course the lions themselves are physically fatter and behaviorally lazier.  But where the kill took place is often unknown.  It is clear that the lions, as predators in fenced reserves do all over Africa, have been using the fence to assist in some instances.  When we find a kill site near a fence we always check the fence for signs of indentation to see whether the lions have driven the animal into the fence or used the fence as a way to cut off escape routes.  In most cases the latter is the case, although the use of the fence has definitely lessened over time, with more kills made in the centre of the site

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