On the 22nd of January staff of Mukuni Big Five (MB5) alerted Lion Encounter that a large lion may be present in the Songwe area of Livingstone.
All Lion Encounter and ALERT lions were confirmed to be present and accounted for – as were those belonging to MB5. It was clear this was a wild lion – and from the size of the footprints – a large male at that. The following day a team of Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) scouts and MB5 staff found further spoor and a dead cow in the area, indicating that he had not moved away from the area overnight.
Lion Encounter in conjunction with ALERT sought permission from ZAWA to capture and relocate this lion. We believe had we not taken this step he would have likely been destroyed. Dr Ian Parsons, wildlife vet and an expert in game capture was called and headed urgently to Livingstone arriving on Tuesday the 24th. Whilst waiting for his arrival Lion Encounter provided bait in an effort to keep the lion in the same area to facilitate capture and to stop it venturing into villages looking for livestock. Lion Encounter General Manager, Richard Leach, headed the operation with Dr Ian Parsons, and over the next few days the rescue team attempted to track the lion on foot. The team saw him on a couple of occasions but were not presented with an opportunity to dart him.
The team decided to construct a hide, up in a tree, in an area that the lion was believed to be, as a further two killed cows were found here. At 2036 on Thursday the 26th of January, the lion was successfully darted. Once asleep he was transported to Lion Encounter’s secure facility in Dambwa Forest, facilities there boast a double electrified fence suitable to contain big five species. Lion Encounter and ALERT will continue to work with Dr Ian Parsons and the Zambia Wildlife Authority to determine the origin of this animal that was found to be wearing a GPS collar, as well as what is the best next course of action for this lion. At the forefront of all decision making throughout the operation was the safety of the people of Songwe and the greater Livingstone area.
We are pleased to have been able to keep the local communities and their livestock safe by capturing this wild lion – and simultaneously saving the lion’s life. Lion Encounter and ALERT would like to sincerely thank Mukuni Big Five, the Zambia Wildlife Authority, Batoka Sky and Overland Mission for their continual assistance throughout the operation. For any questions regarding this press statement, please contact Richard Leach T: 00260 976551449 E: firstname.lastname@example.org