I’m just back from another 3 week field stint in Gonarezhou which I will write about soon. But I just wanted to post some of these photos of lions that were seen at the Mapura den on Chishakwe Ranch in Save Valley Conservancy a few weeks ago. It was a pride of 7 lions, who visited the den a couple of times. Here are some of the curious youngsters investigating the den hole where the pups sleep.
Fortunately all the pups survived, but one of the pack’s adult males (probably the alpha male) was unfortunately killed. He was found a couple of hundred meters from the den.
Nonetheless the pack seems to be holding together okay. They have two litters of pups but are no longer den bound, so I’m not sure how the little ones will do. Just hope they don’t meet these lions again any time soon!
I recently went to one of the wild dog dens and found it to be abandoned. This isn’t all that unusual – the dogs will move the pups at various stages throughout the denning season as they grow or as the parasite load builds up in the den. But not usually when they are as small as they were… So I wondered what had happened, but fortunately I had had two camera traps up at the den over the time they moved. Here is story told by the cameras:
Adults and pups relaxing and playing at the den site:
And then, that night, our other (infrared) camera recorded this…..
A lion at the den! The dogs moved the next day, but that was not the end of the activity at the den site…. The cameras captured the following as well, after the dogs had moved.
A warthog visited…..
An elephant! Who came rather close to the camera…
So! That was all a bit of excitement at the den, but a shame that the dogs have moved.
Unfortunately, I’ve been away for a couple of days and so havent yet located the new den. I really hope all the pups are still alive. There were six, but the few pictures of the dogs captured on the cameras after the lions visit show only three pups. Lions are the greatest cause of natural mortality for the wild dogs and kill both pups and adults. I hope this one was just passing through, although the response of the dogs leads me to think there may be more to it. I’ll find the new den in the next couple of days and let you know how many pups remain.