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Lion BM052 “Marco”

Lion BM052 protected several lioness from different prides. One, a lone female sired at least three of his cubs, judging from his tolerance of them.

Lion BM052 protected several lioness from different prides. One, a lone female sired at least three of his cubs, judging from his tolerance of them.

Lion BM052 was darted and collared in the wildlife management area (WMA) corridor between the CKGRs western boundary and the farms further to the west. He never associated with another male, chasing several younger males for considerable distances. When travelling west out of the reserve, lion BM052 encountered a game farm that tolerated lions and he spent a considerable amount of time there. He consumed several species of antelope which could survive only inside the well watered fenced farm such as black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) and waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) and enjoyed access to constant fresh water through the year. Despite this, BM052 regularly made extremely long journeys inside the boundaries of the reserve, making the rounds to various groups of females. On the game farm he defended a lioness with 3 small cubs and one sub-adult male cub (lioness BF053). BM052 barely tolerated the sub-adult as it grew to a similar size, which then left the group in February, 2011, and was later reported as shot. In October 2011, BM052 started to make extreme journeys to the south and west of his usual range travelling nearly 40km further south than ever before, then returning to the game farm. Finally BM052 walked a considerable distance in two days including walking 7km after 9am to the extreme east of his range then 28 km to the extreme west. While in the west BM052 killed a cattle on the neighbouring farm and was sho. Up to that time the particular farm had experienced only three incidences of livestock loss to lions all connected to BM052 by the GPS data. The same farm had experienced high but undisclosed levels of losses to lions on their farm to the north. After shooting BM052, the farm began to experience the worst cases of livestock loss on the southern farm. They wrote an open letter in which they claim to have lost 49 cattle to lions and blamed the game farm for tolerating lions. They remained uncooperative but the evidence seems to suggest that lion BM052 was in fact acting to hold back nomadic and exploring lions who were naïve to farmer persecution. After his death the numbers of lions exploring the territory rose dramatically and cattle losses increased instead of being mitigated by the culling. It is difficult to study this phenomenon due to the fatal and legal response by farmers, and at this time I began to withdraw my studies of lions on the boundary of the CKGR for political and ethical reasons.

 

GPS points for lion BM052 that show his use of the game farm in the north of his range, and several long range movements he made to the south. He also protected lioness in the east of his range, that straddled the unfenced CKGR boundary.

GPS points for lion BM052 that show his use of the game farm in the north of his range, and several long range movements he made to the south. He also protected lioness in the east of his range, that straddled the unfenced CKGR boundary.

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