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Lion JM058 “Wasp”

 

JM058 receives a cleaning by tongue from companion, JM057

JM058 receives a cleaning by tongue from companion, JM057

Lion JM058 was part of a pair of 6 year old lions first observed in November, 2009 in the Junction Pride range (see Figure 3.2) but were not part of the pride there and were apparently nomadic. Two years later they were observed inside the mostly undefended Passarge area in August, 2011, mating with a Passarge Pride female. I placed a collar on JM058, and a VHF collar on JM059 a few weeks later. The two were more often apart than other pairs of lions and proceeded to mate with eight of the nine females in the pride at that time. At least five became pregnant and gave birth to cubs.

The GPS points from lion JM058 was show a strong tendency towards the Passarge valley pan habitat, (centre diagonal area)

The GPS points from lion JM058 was show a strong tendency towards the Passarge valley pan habitat, (centre diagonal area)

 

The original pride males, PM014 and PM016 returned, and several antagonistic encounters followed. As the females were usually split into two or more groups, one male pair usually accompanied a group of females, while the other pair accompanied another group. Within a few weeks, there was no sign of any cubs (at least 15 had been observed prior to the return of the original pair) and I presume that the original pair recognized that they could not be the fathers and swiftly disposed of them. A tense stand-off ensued where the two pairs occupied a mostly overlapping range, while usually avoiding direct interaction, and this lasted for the 8 months until the cessation of observations. A particularly hot week in October, 2011, while the original pair left the CKGR to find a waterhole on a game farm to the north, the females and the intruding pair went south, into the middle of the Tau Pan prides range to drink from the water hole there. It was a relatively new waterhole, built in 2008 by the new safari lodge there and it seems unlikely that the female lions knew of its existence. The males may have experienced it during their previous nomadic phase. The group encountered the local pride, and despite outnumbering them considerably, the resident Tau Pan pride managed to severely injure one Passarge female and chase the others away, but not before they had a good drink. The injured female was left behind, resting under the lodges cabins for six days and losing noticeable condition in not eating, before returning to her pride. The main advantage that the resident pride had over the Passarge pride was that they were well watered during the plus heat wave, when daytime temperature maxima were above 42 degrees Celsius for the 6 day period. This incident highlights two important factors relevant to the lion livestock conflict; the response of some prides without access to permanent water to extreme heat during the dry season, and their vulnerability. The injured Passarge female showed no fear of humans during her injury time. It is clear that lions are happy to ignore pride boundaries, fences and humans when they are desperate for a resource, which may include more things than water – for instance if food was difficult to find.

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