The Diaries of OT and the Duba Lions, Botswana

OT’s DUBA LION DIARIES

The month of June was a very sad one for Duba lions after losing what they would refer to as a mother and a grandmother to most of these lions found in the area. The unfortunate death happened on the 06th of June.  Mosadimogolo (Old lady), as we would call her was found one morning laying on the marshes of Duba plains lifeless at Shade Island. Her death is attached to age and was exacerbated by injuries she got from a bull buffalo that had knocked her around a few times during a failed kill. She is known to be one of the lions who wouldn’t hesitate to attack buffalos and was most of the time the first one to make a charge. With the kind of aggression, Tumor has suffered a few buffalo hits in the past. On the day she was last thumped by a buffalo, the pride managed to take down a buffalo calf and it was observed that she couldn’t feed. She looked frail and seemed to be in great pain. Since then the mother lion was seen lagging behind as the pride explored the Duba grounds. Weak as she was she depended on the pride’s cooperative hunting and was most of the time out-beaten to prey as lions are known to be extremely competitive feeders especially if the prey is small. She is therefore suspected to have died from age, starvation and injuries incurred during her last battle with the buffalos. The 20 year old mother of Ma Di Tau will go down in history as one of the oldest wild lions in the world and she remains alive in our hearts forever.

Mokopi the guide and his guests experienced one of the rarest lions’ opportunistic hunting. After driving for a few hours in the quest for nature’s surprises, from a distance Mokopi and his guests were startled by the lions that were playing with something that looked like a brown ball. Instinctively he drove close to investigate the behavior of these lions only to realize that the lions were struggling with a pangolin. The pangolin had rolled up into a ball and with its sharp scales covering the whole body all the lions could do was roll it around, taking turns at this exercise. Pangolins are known for this kind of defense mechanism which often saves them from predators like lions as they fail to penetrate the scale. After a good half an hour of trying the lions finally gave up and moved off leaving the pangolin in the same ball position. Mokopi rather chose to stay with the pangolin that later shook off its body and moved on.

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The time has now come for the 2 young males in the Tsaro pride to face the hostile world of becoming nomads. The young males (3 years old) have been often harassed by their father and chased around when found in the comfort of the pride. Action calls for reaction. After suffering this abuse for quite sometime, one of the young males chose to stand his ground against the dominant Skimmer male. OB always displays that smile of “can’t wait to see what’s going to happen when these young boys are full grown” when he narrates the story of his amazing morning. When the dominant male made his usual unannounced appearance, finding the 2 young males lying unsuspectingly next to their female kindred, OB thought it was going to be the usual chase around by the dominant male. This time one of the young males defended himself. As growls got intense, the young male gave a good slap to the father that left his left eye bleeding and luckily the sharp nails did not catch the eye but just gave a good scratch around the right eye. Knowing that he is not yet strong to face his father, the young male ran for his life leaving his brother behind and that was the last time he was seen in the presence of the pride. He is now avoiding any kind of confrontation with his father and now he co-exists with the father in the same territory avoiding him at all costs. The other young male is still sticking with the pride and very soon will face the same fate as his brother of being kicked out. 3 years is normally the age at which male lions are evicted from the pride, leaving them vulnerable to other dominant males in other prides if they have to cross paths. We would be looking at the space before these 2 grow stronger to challenge their father, of which they may succeed if they collate.

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