Five lions moved to Gonarezhou

Hi folks,

A few days ago, five lions were moved from Malilangwe Trust down to Gonarezhou National Park.  Malilangwe Trust is a relatively small conservation area, and managers needed to reduce the number of lions there.  Neighbouring Gonarezhou NP seemed the sensible place to move some to, given the low lion population densities in the park at the current time.

So on Tuesday night, a pride of five lions were moved into the park.  They were released in an area by a river with plenty of prey, but no other lion prides.  The pride structure was one adult female, two subadult females and two subadult males – all beautiful and healthy lions. 

The five lions at the release site – just prior to being woken up with the reversal drugs (all are blindfolded to protect their eyes from damage).

 All five lions at the release site

Lion whisker spots – can be used for identification

Lion whisker spot pattern - can be used for identification

The translocation and release went smoothly, and when I checked on the pride the following day they were all doing well. 

Julius tracking to locate the lions

Julius (National Parks research scout) tracking to find the lions 

By Thursday, they had moved off and we were unable to locate them from the ground – hampered by very few roads and the fact that the rivers were uncrossable.

The Runde River at the base of the Chilojo Cliffs – not crossable at this time of year

The Runde River at the base of the Chilojo Cliffs - too wet to cross at this time of year

There is a GPS collar on the pride however, so they will be located from the air in the next week or so, and the collar downloaded, so we will be able to see where they have moved off to and settled down. 

Back in the conservancy we continue to have hot, dry days with no sign of rain.  Rueben came back from annual leave yesterday, so hopefully we will have more luck with our efforts to find and count the wild dogs now!

Back soon,

Rosemary

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3 Comments

  1. Posted January 24, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rosemary

    I worked in Gonas for a number of years and then at Malilangwe and find your reports about the area very interesting. Could I talk with you about setting something up to bring some people through there and hopeful raize some money for you guys? If interested please email. Tks

  2. Rebecca, Australia
    Posted January 24, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the update.

    How confused will the lions feel at first in their new location?
    I imagine they were very familiar with their old territory so would feel a little lost now. Is it likely they are going to try and wander far away trying to search for their previous territory (even if they cant actually get there, will they try)?

  3. Posted January 25, 2010 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Hi Rebecca,
    Yes, the lions will certainly be confused for a while, but not necessarily in a negative way. They were put in an area with plenty of water and prey so would not have search too far for either, restricting the need for them to move off a long way immediately.
    Nonethless, the likelihood of them returning to where they came from, or at least trying to, is quite high. This is farily common in lion translocations, especially when problem animals are moved away from a livestock area back into a park or something. They are often back within a couple of days!
    So it is possible that when the lions are next located they will be back in Malilangwe where they came from. However the folk in charge of the move (Malilangwe) think that the distance moved should be far enough to prevent them going back. I hope this is the case. We’ll see. I’ll let you know as soon as we find them where they are.
    Thanks,
    Rosemary

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