Last year a lion cub cohort of seven individuals (aged between 1.5-1.8yrs old) were struggling to survive having just dispersed from their mothers. Finding it hard out on their own, they resorted to killing livestock to survive and any small wildlife that they could successfully hunt.
After one particular incident last February, where they killed numerous livestock just across the border in Tanzania, the group was hunted by morans from Tanzania and two male cubs were speared in retaliation. The next day the Tanzanian government translocated two of the females. Within days, the the cub cohort was fragmented and only three cubs now remained together. We were sad as we thought they might not survive long on their own.
One year later, however, when we had some volunteer Guardians on Mbirikani Group Ranch looking for a permanent position a report came in that would thankfully prove us wrong. A volunteer called Tonkei was hot on the tracks of a young male lion.
On arrival at the report we found an excited Tonkei who could hardly contain himself. He had just walked in on the lion and managed to get away without the lion even seeing, hearing, or smelling him. We quickly drove straight to the point where he had left the lion and found him still sleeping. Once we got close enough to get photographs of his whisker spots, we managed to identify the young male as ‘Lorpait’. He was one of the male cubs from the fragmented cohort. We could not help but wonder how he had survived last year and whether any of his other siblings was alive. Last time we saw him he had two porcupine quills embedded deep into his chest!
It is almost always remarkable to witness the incredible trials and tribulations that community lions go through in their lives on these lands. And sometimes these moments we witness bring us untold joy. To find Lorpait alive and healthy one year after the extreme difficulties he faced shows just how resilient lions can be.
In another happy twist to the tale, Tonkei who had helped find Lorpait, went on to complete a successful volunteering period and has since been hired as a new Guardian for that zone. We would like to congratulate both Tonkei and Lorpait for their perseverance and hope that they both flourish in each other’s existence.