Cecil and the Trans Kalahari Predator Project
May 13, 2016
The idiom has it that as time passes water flows under the bridge: David Macdonald observes that as we approach the anniversary of Cecil’s death that proverbial water has been a torrent, but amongst the turbulence of debate and the swell of concern for lion conservation there is good news from Hwange: Cecil’s three lionesses and seven cubs are still alive and well and, together with the surviving pride male, Jericho, still occupying what was formerly Cecil’s home range. We did have a scare when one of the females appeared ominously stationary but it turned out that she had shed her radio-collar, so all was well. The survival of all these lions is a personal delight to us, and a relief, but it’s also quite surprising. As is widely known now, when a pride male is killed that can lead to the overthrow of his coalition partners by incomers and the subsequent infanticide of the cubs, but this didn’t happen. Furthermore, Jericho is a very unusual lion, sociologically, as was Cecil before him. Both were old, and both had previously been pride males elsewhere before they teamed up for a second career – Jericho’s continuing success is remarkable. All this is good news from the field, and adds to the continuing fascination of lion sociology, but this is only a tiny part of the story that has unfolded this year: WildCRU’s Trans Kalahari Predator Project has been setting up new initiatives in Zimbabwe and in Botswana, where Andy Loveridge and I will be working with the field team next month, so there’s much more news to follow.
Read more from WildCRU:
Donations to WildCRU’s Cecil Appeal can be made at: http://www.campaign.ox.ac.uk/wildcru
US donors can give via the University of Oxford North America Office http://www.oxfordna.org/giving_how.htm Please select ‘WildCRU’ in the drop down list.
This is a story – a true story, and is as fascinating as it is factual. It demonstrates some of the interesting idiosyncrasies of lion life that have been documented by the Hwange Lion Research Team (HLR) through the use of radio tags and GPS collars.
Although born at different times and with completely different lineage, Cecil and Jericho would have shared many common aspects in their very early weeks and months of life. Both would have been kept hidden to protect them for the first six or so weeks after birth, blind, helpless and totally dependent on their mothers for food and warmth. They would have been brought out of hiding and timorously introduced to the pride, would have known hunger, would have had to squabble, snarl and fight with other youngsters in the pride for the scraps of a kill. They would have known the freezing cold of Hwange winter nights and the breathless, blistering October daytime heat. They would have played and tussled with similar aged siblings, all the while learning vital skills needed in later years. They would have known the fright and confusion of dispersal males, driven from the pride at 3 or so years of age so as not to compete with the dominant male, nature’s way of dispersing the gene pool. They would have learned to become competent hunters in their own right in order to survive.