Following the tragic loss of one of the young introduced lionesses at Liuwa, we have had to adapt our lion programme to ensure the best chance of success. Recently we placed Lady Liuwa and the remaining young lioness in a holding boma in the centre of the park where thankfully they are co-existing comfortably and even sharing kills.
In June, the younger of the young lionesses was lost to a poacher’s snare and her sister, now alone and vulnerable, fled northwards out of the park. In a difficult rescue operation, we were able to bring her back by helicopter when she was just a few hours’ walk from crossing into neighboring Angola. In order to settle her, she was put in the fenced "boma” where she had spent weeks acclimatising on arrival at Liuwa last October. Although she calmed down quickly and gained weight, we knew that her survival chances were low if she were to be released back into the wild alone.
The solution was to try and get the young lioness to bond with Lady Liuwa, despite the fact that lionesses from different prides do not bond easily and that Lady Liuwa had also spent most of her life alone. Out in the park they had not come together voluntarily so we were going to have to encourage the bonding process. With this in mind, we made the decision to place Lady Liuwa in the boma alongside the young lioness.
It is now just over a month later, and we are surprised how readily Lady Liuwa has adapted to her new confined space. She was quick to establish her dominance over the young lioness (who in turn has shown appropriate submission) but has been tolerant, allowing the youngster to share wildebeest carcasses with her. Apart from a few growls at meal times, there has thankfully been no real aggression. The two consort males have in the meantime kept an eye on proceedings. Their routine is to set off for the north of the park on 3-4 day cycles to hunt and then return to check on the girls.
Lady Liuwa and the young lioness will be released from the boma in mid-October when the greatest concentration of wildebeest is in the centre of the park, and we are hopeful that the two will remain together roaming the Liuwa plains. We will keep you posted!
Date: 04 Oct 2012