Recently, we have received several reports from our Lion Guardians and the Selenkay Conservancy game scouts of a male lion calling. Our Lion Guardian team decided to do a “call-in” in an attempt to identify the lion. To do a call-in, we play a variety of animal calls over a loudspeaker at night such as lion territory calls, buffalo distress calls, and a cacophony of excited hyenas. If we are lucky, nearby lions, curious about the sounds, will come to investigate. To keep them in the vicinity long enough for us to get pictures and identify them, we usually tie some sort of bait to a nearby tree or bush for them to snack on.
The male lion that replied to the call-in turned out to be Ndelie, one of our collared male lions, who generally likes to spend his time between Kuku and Mbirikani Group Ranches.
We were surprised to find him there due to the fact that Selenkay Conservancy is quite far from his normal stomping grounds. His presence reconfirms what we have been finding out this year; lions living outside protected areas have massive ranges. We have also been finding that they hang out in groups of 2 or 3 but never in larger prides. This is their strategy for survival in areas that saw several past generations of lions being persecuted. Talk about survival instincts! Ndelie was very nervous, and after spending a little time with the bait, he left the scene.
But what made the call-in even more interesting was the number of additional visitors it attracted. The first to respond was a serval cat.
It took her a while to get comfortable with our car and she was also nervous from having just heard a lion roar at that particular spot not so long ago (she didn’t know that it was just a recording). But eventually she took her rightful share of the bait and thereafter left the scene. Then in the morning, when it is easier to see any enemies lurking about, it was time for another regular visitor to call-ins, the black back jackal.
It too took its share of the bait and then left, albeit reluctantly.
When the sun was a bit higher, another interesting visitor came; it was a pale chanting goshawk.
It first assessed the bait then did just what the other predators before it did, it began feeding. Obviously, this late visitor made our long overnight vigil worthwhile. But my question is, is this a normal occurrence or is it because the festive Christmas spirit is in the air?
Happy Holidays to all from the Lion Guardians!