While the recent rains that have broken the drought are a blessing for the people and livestock, it is not cause for celebration for the lions in the ecosystem. Cubs that were frolicking fat and happy almost six months ago are now walking skeletons – skin and bones. It is heartbreaking. Guardian Metito exclaimed upon seeing Nekitirua’s older cubs “Where have their organs gone? I see nothing but skin and bones!”
After the life-bringing rains of December and early January, the wild prey has grown strong and dispersed over wide areas. Lions are struggling for their survival. Most are succeeding, while others are unfortunately not. Out of the 66 cubs that are currently alive and known, we are seeing a small % (~12%) affected by starvation. They are seemingly all the youngsters from the park who are used to feasting and perhaps do not know how to hunt as well as the community lions.
This situation raises difficult questions. The naturalists within us know that this is a part of the circle of life, the cruel test of evolution and survival of the fittest at its most obvious. The emotions within us cry out to help these cubs we have seen frolicking happily only months ago. Some of the cubs may not survive the week. Do we intervene with nature’s process? Where do we as humans draw the line? These are hard questions as when there are so many shades of grey, there is no clear black and white.
With an ache in our hearts, we know that we can only grieve for these young ones and let nature take its course.