The prolonged drought that finished earlier this year had an effect on practically everything. The worst affected were herbivores, both wild and domesticated. Wildebeest and zebra, the main prey species for lions, drastically reduced in number and at the height of drought, carnivores were having a field day as they fed on these weak herbivores, like these thin zebras.
However, when the rains came and the grass became plentiful, the few herbivores that were spared by the drought became strong and lions had to work much harder to bring them down. Hyenas were feeding on carcasses and it has been reported that some could even be seen dragging dry carcasses to water, waiting for them to become soft and feeding on them before retiring to their nearby dens. This situation continued for some time and livestock depredation cases attributed to hyenas drastically reduced.
Meanwhile lions became weak, as their primary prey species diminished. Lions within Amboseli National Park especially were affected, as their prey dispersed from this protected area to neighbouring Group Ranches. The lions followed them out but because of their weak strength, they could hardly bring them down. The lions were hungry and this is why lion-livestock conflicts increased at this time, as lions targeted livestock either inside their enclosures (bomas) or whilst out grazing, like this unfortunate cow, attacked by lions.
The lioness Nosieki and her pride have a reputation of never killing livestock, but even they became so weak and their cubs so hungry that they too participated in livestock killing, greatly angering the people who’s cows and goats they chose to kill. However, due to the work of the conservation efforts in the area, such as the Selenkay Conservancy and the Lion Guardians, when our team found Nosieki’s pride recently they were unharmed and very healthy.
They had with them a zebra they had killed that morning. Sadly there were only 3 cubs left from their original number but they were playful and full of life, indicating that they now have plenty of prey. We only hope this situation remain the same for this pride, that are reputed for their peaceful nature.