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Paradise Regained – Parc National Zakouma Tchad


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6 hours ago, Galago said:

@Kitsafari  Love the fact that there are Hinged tortoises and Hinged terrapins. This, presumably, is in contrast to 'Unhinged Tourist' when she spots a snake nearby :D


Haha, love that one! :D 

Edited by Sangeeta
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On 30.12.2017 at 4:11 PM, Galago said:


@michael-ibk  And when are you going to Chad - wondering if we're on the same trip 6-16 Feb.



@Galago Sorry to say I'm there later in the year, beginning of March.

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@michael-ibk  Ah shame. We missed each other at Tadoba, now Zakouma - haha!

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@inyathi Thank you so much for posting a list of all the mammals to be found in Zakouma.Of course I'm so excited that I'll be seeing so many new species when I go there  in February. Of course I bought a copy of Birds of West Africa in preparation for my trip.

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Just completed your trip report, I did it in couple of sittings. Truly Herculean effort by yourself.

Your photos were simply beautiful and the detail added by your words brilliant. 

I can't express enough how appreciative I am to people who are willing to put in the time and effort it must take to complete the trip reports that I am then fortunate enough to view.

Thank you very much.

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Great Pictures of a great (and rarely seen) area.


Regarding the lion subspecies:


There is not yet a real agreement among scientists, how many Lion subspecies today exist.

I personally would not support, lumping Senegal (or West African) lions (P. l. senegalensis) together with Asiatic lions (P. l. Persica) in one subspecies. Although, it is true, that Senegal lins are more closely related to Asiatic lions than to Southern and Eastern African lions, both types look quite different. The manelesnes for example is a typical feature of Senegal lions, which is rarely seen in Asiatic lions.


I think a good solution would be the following:


1) Southern African Lion (P. l. melanochaita) (including krugeri,massaicus, bleyenberghi and melanochaitus)

2) Senegal Lion (P. l. senegalensis) (including senegalensis, azandica and presumably the usually maneless lions of  North-East Africa (Tsavo, Samburu area and the Dinder-NP), interstingly lions form ancient egypt closely resemble this type of maneless males.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_African_lion#/media/File:Soleb_Lion.jpg)

3) Asiatic Lion (P. l. persica) (persica and presumably  leo)






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just a comment to my last edit. "maneless" would also include lions with very weak manes. 

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@Savannenfuchs, I read with interest your ideas on lion taxonomy. (#307/308).

I am not sure if you have read my posting (#72) on this thread, which was extensively researched including contact with one of the world's leading experts on the current status of lion taxonomy.

Current scientific thinking is that there are only two subspecies of lion. You are right to point out that the populations of lions found in small numbers in West & Central Africa are genetically more closely related to those in India, than those lions found in Southern and Eastern Africa. This was proven by the analysis of material taken from numerous specimens taken from several populations and therefore does not merit separate subspecies status for the Indian population. 

As you are aware the degree of a lion's mane is purely a physical attribute, possibly an adaptation to climate and has no real significance in the taxonomic debate.

I therefore personally would prefer at this stage to support the two subspecies model which I think you will find is generally the one adopted by most people working in this field and I look forward to observing some of the northern subspecies (Panthera leo leo) during my visit to Zakouma in early February.





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Thanks a lot for the reply.


Well, it is true, that the mane development in lions is dependent on the local climate. Asiatic lions in Europe get much larger and heavier manes, than Asiatic lions in India.

But still, there seems to be a genetic component. I had also contact with lion researchers (Bertola et al) and this view was partly confirmed by them.


Generally, I would be always careful about the most recent taxonomy. A few years ago, the Senegal lion was lumped together with other African lions in one subspecies by many researches. I did not like that either, and the genetic analysis afterwards confirmed my feelings. I also have the feeling, that Asiatic lions look somewhat different from their faces, but that might be misleading.


In my opinion, phenotypic aspects should be taken into account, when it comes to subspecies protection. For my part, I think it would be sad, if the manless lions of Pendjari or Samburu would dissapear and would be replaced by Asiatic lions (which would be OK, if both are indeed the same subspecies). It might well be, that Senegal lions and Asaitic lions share almost "all genes", but even if they are different in a two or three genes, which are responible for the weak manes, I think it would be worth protecting them.

Fromt hat point of view, I think it would be even dangerous, to place the Senegal lion into the Asiatic groug, since their number would be increased artifiicially. Without including it into the Asian lion, the Senegal lion would most likely be the most endangered cat subspecies in the world (without any captive backup).


That is my personal view. Now back to science:

A recent paper comes to the conclusion, that there are six recent lion subpopulations, which can be distinguished genentically.



1 Western (Senegal to Nigeria)

2 Central (Nigeria to Sudan; including Zakouma lions)

3 North East (Tsavo, Samburu, Horn of Africa)

4 Southeastern (Serengeti to Cape)

5 Southwestern (Angola/North Namibia, Northern South Africa)

6 Asian/Northafrican


According to that paper, the (often maneless) lions of Samburu/Tsavo ect. share their mitochondrial heritage with the southeastern lions (despite looking more like Senegal lions).

So perhaps, one should treat them as a different subspecies.  A good name might be somaliensis (Noack, 1891:120. Type locality ‘‘Somali-
Halbinsel"). I think a clear split of the southeastern and southwestern group might be very hard, since there is a broad mixture zone at Kruger NP and a long border, which goes through or close by many prime strongholds of the lion today (to me lions from northern Namibia look anyway very similar to Kalahari or Serengeti lions). The Asian North African lions are basically identical and would be called P. l. leo.


So coming back to the point and this topic. If the subpopulations distinguished in the mentioned paper would be treated as subspecies, the Central African lions (and hence the Zakouma lions) would most likely be P. l. azandica. The type specimen of this form was found in the northeastern Belgium Congo.








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