Our friends over at The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust are at the forefront of lion conservation in Africa. African Impact volunteers joining us at the home of this program, Antelope Park in Zimbabwe, are fortunate enough to get involved in their world's-first Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild program. This program is currently in its third stage, the release phase, where a pride of lions are released into a fenced and managed wild environment. The intention is that the lions form a socially stable and self-sustaining pride within which cubs are successfully raised (without human contact), before being released into a National Park.
This has been a roaring success thus far (excuse our pun!), and African Impact volunteers at Antelope Park are continually involved in ground-breaking research. Here, we hear about how the Ngamo Pride gave them the run-around recently during one of their research sessions!
As the rainy season in Zimbabwe continues, the roads in the Ngamo release site have become tricky to manoeuvre on, with off-road driving proving near impossible. Of course, the pride doesn’t make it any easier, navigating their way easily through the long grass and dense bush in a way the research vehicle struggles to emulate. The lions also benefit from the rains, as they create puddles all over the site, meaning abundant opportunities to quench their thirst instead of having to head to the waterholes.
Driving along the boundary road recently, the research team arrived at a particularly challenging part of the route. Just as they started to head through the puddles, AS5 appeared on an anthill right beside the vehicle. Naturally, they had to stop where they were to watch him, hoping not to get stuck in the mud. Eventually, he and the rest of the pride moved on, and fortunately the team were able to continue behind them without any issues.
The lions have become more active recently, moving around all areas of the release site. This has resulted in them coming into close proximity with impala. A few weeks ago, Nala left the pride resting in the ‘Valley’ area to go off hunting alone. She later returned with a bloody face and a round belly, having successfully killed a young impala. Nala then settled back down to rest, without the other lions suspecting a thing. Just a week later, a male impala was spotted. Although Phyre was initially the leader of the movement towards the animal, AS4, AT1, KE3 & KE4 are thought to have made the kill. By the time the research team - and the other lions - arrived at the scene, the sub-adults were happily tucking into the kill.
As always, each of the Ngamo lions has close bonds to certain other members of the pride. KE4 will happily spend time with her sisters - which is important for their future - however, there is no denying her strongest bond is with her mother Kenge. Wherever Kenge is, KE4 is somewhere close by. If her mother moves too far away, she will always follow to sit right beside her. As well as Nala’s well-documented bond to AS4, she has recently been seen close to KE3 and KE4, often choosing to rest beside them. As usual, Phyre has been the social queen of the pride so far this year, greeting anyone she passes and grooming everyone she sits by. Meanwhile, Milo and AS5 are still as close as ever, following each other wherever they go.
If you're interested in joining the journey of the Ngamo Pride and becoming a volunteer in Antelope Park, READ MORE about our Lion Conservation Programs.
Find the original post, plus plenty more news and updates on The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust's website: HERE!