Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lions

We did actually see two caged animals on the reserve - they were lions who have been given to the reserve. It took six grown men to move the sedated lions when they arrived by helicopter.

There are currently two adult male lions who have lived on the reserve since birth - aren't they beautiful?





They are brothers who will be shortly sold to a neighbouring reserve and the new lions will be released. The resident lions are about seven years old, but need to be moved out as a) there would be a blood bath if the two pairs of lions got at each other, and b) the gene pool of lions on the reserve will be weakened if the cubs all have the same fathers.

Because of the arrival of the new lions we did not see any lionesses who had sensed the incomers and were hiding out in the mountains to protect their cubs.

Stand by for the educational bit as nicked straight from Encarta:

Lions are unusual among cats for their habit of living in groups. A pride consists of 2 to 12 adult females and their cubs. All of the females are related: sisters, mothers, aunts, and cousins. Born into a pride, a female will stay in it for life, although a large pride may split into smaller ones. Pride females care for cubs together, hunt and eat together, and aggressively defend their hunting grounds and water holes from other prides. Equally important, pride females must often defend their cubs from groups of males.

Unlike females, male cubs are driven from the pride when they are between two and four years old. If they are lucky, they leave with brothers and cousins; if not, they team up with unrelated males. These groups of two to six males are called coalitions. The goal of a coalition is to join a pride of females to mate and have young. This usually involves chasing off the coalition currently in residence with a pride, although resident males do not leave willingly. Bloody combat may take place, with the larger of the competing coalitions generally winning the pride.

These periods of change spell trouble for pride females and their young. When new males take over, they try to kill the cubs, which were fathered by males in the ousted coalition. Statistics show that invading male lions kill as many as one-quarter of all lion cubs. When a female loses her cubs, she is willing to mate sooner with the new males. However, females vigorously try to defend their cubs. One on one, a female lion is no match for a much larger male lion. But by fighting together, pride females are sometimes able to save their cubs.


Horrible to think the cubs on the reserve are currently under such a threat.

We had two trucks as there were so many of us. My sons were on the other one to me, and they went up to see the new arrivals, just at the resident lions were demonstrating just exactly who they thought were the kings of this piece of jungle. Apparently they were acting very aggressively, and in very close proximity to the truck. They were told not to move an inch, or utter a sound whilst this was all going on.

And for once I understand my lads did exactly what they were told!

2 comments:

Moo said...

Wow, it sounds like you have had a fab time JJ! I am so jealous, however I have chance to visit either Africa or India next year with work for some sort of challenge! I hope I get one of the trips!! The pics are stunning, and the lions are gorgeous!

J.J said...

Oh Moo, I hope so much that one of those comes off for you. You would love every minute of it.