On 26th January 2012 a team comprising Dr Ian Parsons, Lion Encounter Zambia / ALERT, Mukuni Big Five and the Zambia Wildlife Authority captured a wild lion that had been designated as a “problem animal” in the Songwe area of Livingstone. The lion is known to have killed at least three cows since arriving into the area. The lion was darted and moved to Lion Encounter’s secure facility in the Dambwa Forest. As this animal was collared Lion Encounter / ALERT contacted carnivore researchers in Zambia as well as in neighbouring Botswana and Zimbabwe to try and ascertain from where this lion had originated. Following contact with Oxford University’s WildCru Hwange Lion Project it was thought that this may be the last remaining member of a coalition named the “Dynamites” from the Zimbabwean National Park.
On 3rd February 2012 researcher Brent Stapelkamp arrived in Livingstone and successfully downloaded the data from the lion’s collar, confirming his identity and origin. That data will be sent back to Oxford for analysis and we hope to bring you further details of what is discovered soon. What we know now is that this lion was born in 2002 and was originally in a coalition of seven when he left his natal pride. Over the following years that coalition was reduced to four, and three of those were killed in snares. As the sole remaining member of the coalition he took over the group’s name, Dynamite, with his core area around the Gwayi. This now ten year old lion is known to have a history of cattle raiding from his former home.
He is known to have lost his pride tenure to two younger males and was last seen in December 2011 when he disappeared, until resurfacing in Livingstone on 22nd January 2012. During that time he has travelled at least 150km (as the crow flies), likely travelled through many areas of high human population density and finally crossed a significant natural barrier; the Zambezi River. The full details of his journey will become apparent once the collar’s data is analysed.
The full information about this lion will be provided to the Zambia Wildlife Authority as discussions continue on what is best for his future, however given his history of livestock killing both previously and more recently upon his arrival into Livingstone, we believe that it is unlikely that a wildlife authority would be willing to release him into an unfenced area where he would have the opportunity to continue coming into conflict with humans.