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Loko-motion


David Youldon

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Last night we took Lokothula, Langa & Ltalo out again following a successful hunt (an ostrich) five days ago. All three started off with a half hearted stalk on two impala and then on a herd of giraffe. When they came across a duiker only Lokothula even bothered to stalk it so we thought we were in for an unsuccesful night.

And then the three 25 month old brothers found some Red Hartebeest. All three got into a stalk but again it was Lokothula that showed the real skill picking out an adult and dispatching the fleet-footed antelope very quickly.

What does this mean for his record? He now has six kills to his name (ostrich, baboon, two warthog, red hartebeest and a buffalo) and joins his brothers Landela and Ltalo in the rankings, each with six kills. One more kill and he will enter the elite top five of most kills in joint fifth with Narnia.

The trio of Lokothula, Langa & Ltalo are also now joint second in the program's history for success rate, however, they have only been out together three times so this is not yet significant and they have a lot of work to do if they want to maintain this standing alongside Athena, Kwali, Kenge & Kwezi who maintained that 67% success rate over nine hunts together.

This kill also brings the success rate for the all boy groups equal to the all girl groups. Each have been out 54 times and have a 46% success rate. It also brings the success rate for either two or three lions hunting together to the same 43% success rate.

One thing we have seen with the 4L brothers is that two of them are particularly good at hunting; Landela & Lokothula, whilst the group is more likely to make a kill if Ltalo is present, even if he does not take part in the hunt itself. Langa does not seem to be getting anywhere and that brings up some questions.

Previous studies have shown four hunting strategies in lions. Firstly there are co-operators; those lions that will always hunt if they are in the presence of a companion, but they are also capable of hunting on their own. Landela & Lokothula seem to fit this description.

Then there are the cheaters. These lions will hunt if they are the first to spot the prey but will stop if another lion joins in, allowing that lion to do all the work. Ltalo appears to be this.

There are solitary hunters and then there are scavengers. Scavengers almost never hunt but will happily take advantage of other's kills. Langa is a prime example of this. He almost never takes part in a hunt, but you can bet that he is there getting more than his fair share of the spoils.

We should definitely look into this more as understanding hunting strategies will assist in putting more cohesive prides together.

ADVANCE NOTICE: WE EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE AN UPDATE ON THE PROGRESS TO CONFIRM OUR RELEASE AREAS IN ZAMBIA VERY SHORTLY. WATCH THIS SPACE.

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