Eric tells us of another successful day for the Lion Guardians:
Yesterday we received 2 interesting reports from Lion Guardians on Mbirikani – Mushaga and Kapande. We started off the day by responding to Kapande’s report of a lion that he had tracked on foot.
We met Kapande and with radio tracking gear we immediately picked-up the signal of the lioness Nimaoi. She was deep inside the thick forest with her cubs, and it was impossible to see her. Here she is with her cubs in a photo taken in January.
Next we headed off and tracked for another lioness called Nemasi. After weaving through some thick thorn bush, her signal became very clear, and after a few minutes we found her resting under the shade of a tree with a bulging stomach. After conducting a little search, we found the reason why. She had killed an eland calf and was enjoying all the meat by herself. This was good for her because she is due to have her cubs anytime from now. We think she has actually moved away from her male colleagues for this reason. Having seen her looking healthy and knowing the general area she is in, we came back to camp feeling satisfied, and glad she had not been feasting on any cattle or sheep. Here is the lovely lioness Nemasi with her previous cubs from March 2008, 2 of which have now grown up successfully.
Later that evening we went to respond to Mushaga’s report. On our way to his zone, we saw something in the distance, and couldn’t make out what it was. As we got closer, we saw it was a leopard! Our team members were excited for we know that leopards are becoming increasingly rare, and they are so secretive that we don’t often see them. The leopard was not even afraid and it gladly waited for us to get closer. I have not seen a leopard for quite some time and it is rare to see them in the day light so you can imagine the excitement! We then proceeded with our journey and passed several pregnant giraffes before reaching the actual spot where lion tracks were seen by Mushaga earlier.
As we didn’t know who these tracks belonged to we decided to do ‘call-in’ in an open place, which involved playing the sounds of a dying animal, or other lions, to attract lions towards us and bring them out of the forest. It took just 5 minutes for the lions to respond. Four lions appeared out of the darkness and strolled right past our car! They were 3 females and one male lion, and excitingly they were new lions, unknown to us! We will be making sure to keep track of this new pride and see if we can find out where they have come from and whether they will take up residence here, under the watchful protection of the Lion Guardians. What a great day!