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Stage Two Release - Aiming for 1st April 2008


David Youldon

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Now that the rains have subsided the decision to release further lions at our Dollar Block release site is being actioned. Phyre, Ashanti and Kenge have been successfully hunting at the site for six months now and have formed a very close bond with Ashanti as the alpha female. They have brought down a number of species from warthog to adult giraffe. As has been published previously, Luke has been returned to Antelope Park and Maxwell has been held in a holding enclosure for some time now. We were hoping that the three females would show signs of accepting him, however we are not confident that they will do so. Therefore we have decided to also bring Maxwell back to the Park and he will be released in a different pride at a later date.

Three additional females will be taken to the site, bonded with the existing three in the holding enclosures and then released. They will be allowed to live without the complication of dealing with a male for a while in order to cement that pride bond. The male however will be kept in the holding enclosure at the site and we expect that the females will give us signs that they are ready to accept his presence within their pride.

The three females and one male that are being taken are Nala, Narnia, Athena & Mickey.

Nala and Narnia have shown time and again how good they are at hunting with eighteen kills to their name. They are now two years and three months old whilst Athena, the sister of Ashanti, is one year older. Mickey is just over five years old.

We are also moving additional game into the area to expand their prey choice including a herd of wildebeest.

We are aiming for the re-release to take place on 1st April 2008 for the girls which will also coincide with a CCWA sponsored independent researcher from the University of Zimbabwe’s Tropical Ecology Department arriving to conduct a study.

The study will monitor the captive bred lion’s adaptation into a semi- wild environment to assess their killing rates and prey selection, to record their group behaviour to determine if a pride has been formed and to assess and evaluate the contribution of captive bred lions to lion conservation in Zimbabwe.

This is the first of a number of studies that we are hosting in order to provide an independent review of the program that will assist us in perfecting our release protocols. Details of other upcomng studies including a link with the UK's Exeter University will follow soon.

Our February newsletter is now available. To get your copy simply email us as alert@africanencounter.org. The newsletter features:

* an update on stage one where Landela has made another two kills. Our hunting success rate in February is an incredible 80% bringing our average for the entire program history to 49%;
* our decision to spay some of the females so that they can be released as part of the main release program;
* the official launch of our sponsor a lion program to raise funds to complete release sites;
* an update on our community development programs;
* an interview with Andrew Conolly, founder of the release program;
* and also a special appeal to help us get Shuma Famba ice cream made to raise funds for the program. Shumba Famba means lion walk in our local Shona language. We are hoping the delicious dessert will be toffee flavoured to match the lions fur colour and contain chocolate paws. If you would like to help us to convince a major manufacturer to support ALERT by producing this ice cream then sign our petition at:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/shumbafamba/

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