It has been a sad day for the guides, staff and any past visitors of Duba Plains, the iconic safari camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta. A legend has passed.
For over two decades now the ultimate battle has been watged between the herds of buffalo and the considerable prides of lion of Duba island. Nature is cruel in tooth and claw, but one lion has managed to outlast them all. Known most recently as “The Grandmother”, she sadly passed away today. It is estimated that she reached 20 years old, which is unprecedented for wild lions.
It has been a tough few weeks for the guides who watched a series of incidents which ultimately led to her death. First, a tumour appeared on the back of her neck and it began to grow considerably (pictured below).
She did not appear to be in too much discomfort from the tumor but then she got involved in a failed attempt to bring down a buffalo bull and she was gored badly in the neck. The injury that she sustained prevented her from hunting but worse still she could not compete with her fellow pride members in feeding on a kill. Feeding is quite a frenzy between lions, requires strength to push, pull and jostle for one’s share. Lions simply don’t like sharing. She became thinner and isolated from the pride until today, when she was found dead just two kilometres from camp. It is unclear as to whether it was a hyena or even another lion which ultimately ended her life, but we just hope it was not traumatic. Perhaps, she behaved as cats often do and proudly slinked away, quietly laid down to rest.
The grand lady had seen more than perhaps any other lion in the Delta. She witnessed the birth of safaris in the area, she mothered dozens of cubs including the famous Ma di Tau, star of The Last Lions film and her perseverance represents the strength and yet the plight of her species. There is a real sense of nostalgia surrounding her passing.
This lady was a survivor and more, we owe it to her to continue to preserve the rest of her pride for generations to come. Including young cubs, there are around thirty lions in the Duba area. Should they disappear it would devastate and inevitably destroy the entire habitat and its surroundings.
The Grandmother of lions – Rest in Peace – Twenty years and now you rest