On the 6th of September at 10am in the morning wilddogs were seen hunting around Tumaren Camp. A walking safari nearby were able to see the dogs briefly as they tore off after some Impala. This is not an uncommon observation on our trips and we see wilddogs often hunting in the area. While some lodges in Kenya use radio telemetry to find their wilddogs, we prefer old school tracking and spotting to the ‘canned hunt’ approach. It was thrilling then to see that our pack had some very new pups with them as well.
Kechine, one of our lead rangers continued to follow the wilddogs as they descended toward one of our dams. In thick bush he was able to catch up with the dogs just as they met with an adult lioness. There was a standoff just before the Lioness lunged and was able to grab one of the new pups. She promptly killed the dog while the rest of the pack circled in obvious concern and stress. A rather sad day for our dogs but a very interesting interaction that Kechine (also pictured below) was able to observe and document on his new Nikon camera.
Today Rangers Kichine and Kitilla found the below dead Lion cub stashed in a tree. Lion tracks were all over the base of the tree but it was obvious that no lion would have been able to stow the dead cub way up in the thin branches. The consensus on the ground is that a new Male Lion is in town who killed this young and that in the night a Leopard came to claim the cub and try to stow it for later. Even this seems like abnormal behavior on a Leopard’s part, also quite risky as the lions like this area and would love nothing more than killing a Leopard. Possibly in the middle of the night when the Leopard was feeling more brazen he was able to take the kill when the Lions were sleeping off a bit. Then in the morning when the lions realized what the Leopard intended they slept beneath the tree to prevent his return (there were no Leopard tracks to be seen as they were covered by Lion tracks that flushed just in front of our rangers). I have left the camera trap at the tree for the night to see who returns to the scene of the crime.
This sad (its actually not that sad – this was an old lion) but interesting story comes from Laurence Frank from the Laikipia Predator Project. The LPP is an excellent effort fighting hard on behalf of predators and looking deeper into the conflicts that humans and predators find themselves in, in our area. Please have a look at their website http://www.lionconservation.org to learn more.
Below is Laurence’s notes:
This morning LM72 was found dead on Ol Pejeta, apparently killed by
other lions. Many thanks to Giles Prettejohn for informing us as
soon as he was found.
We collared male LM72 as a three-and-a-half year old on Segera in
January 2002. He stayed on the south half of Segera and Kihoto until
November, and then moved to Ol Jogi for a year. By March 2004 he was
back on Segera, where he resumed his old home range until August,
when he moved to Ngorare. Alayne gave him a new collar on Ngorare in
October, 2004. We think he became a pride male there, as he stayed
until April, 2006. Three days after we last found him on Ngorare, he
showed up on Mutara, presumably displaced by other males. Since then
he has moved between Mutara and Ol Pejeta; although we have not been
able to do much flying in the last two years, we had several reports
of him on OP. I attach a map showing the 78 locations we got over
the years. He covered a minimum area of 840 sq. km. in the time we
have known him.
He appears to have been badly beaten up by other males a few days
ago. He had deep infected and necrotic bite wounds on both hindlegs
and his neck, and presumably died of infections early
yesterday. Interestingly, we had a similar case of a young male
dying of infected bites and abscesses on Mpala last October.
LM72 was ten or eleven years old. To have lived that long, he was
clearly wise enough to leave cattle alone; let us hope that he left
us many offspring who learned his discretion and good manners.
David Mech, the American Wolf Biologist once suggested that allowing ranchers to shoot and kill the occasional wolf predating their livestock would allow ranchers recourse to fix their own problems without resorting to poisoning, the more deadly and indiscriminate killer of predators as well as scavengers. I wonder if the same theory could apply to Lions. As social predators Lions might behave in some of the same ways as a wolf pack. Mr Mech has suggested that you can typically kill a couple wolves from a pack but quite quickly the remainder become very shy and refrain from the activities that brought on the trouble in the first place. I would imagine that Lions would behave in the same way.
I bring up this point simply as something to think about and discuss. We live in a part of the world where a large number of pastoral people must coexist with predators that routinely eat their livelyhood. Poisoning, a far more terrifying solution has been widely used in Kenya to Kill predators in the past. Through poisoning alone the American government was able to nearly eliminate the wolf population from the lower 48 and Mr. Mech has suggested that this would never have been possible if those predator control agents were only given guns. Have authors made similar suggestions when it comes to large predator control in Africa?