Wildlife & Wild Places

Drama in the Mara!

Lion in a blanket?

By Anne Kent Taylor

 

“As in human populations, territorial  “punch-ups” frequently occur in the Animal Kingdom.   On January 17th, 2014 , in Kenya’s Masai Mara,  two lion prides tangled over their territorial rights, and a kill, resulting in one three month old cub becoming separated from her mother and pride.  One would assume that this was an automatic death sentence for this cub – but not so! A few days later, she was spotted by Governor’s Camp head driver, Moses, cowering in a wild gardenia tree….that way , keeping safe from the attentions of roving hyena clans which would have killed her in a nano-second.  She clearly had a very strong sense of survival and hope was restored that she could perhaps survive if she was reunited with her family. Alas, the following day she had disappeared  again and everyone’s concern was evident as to her fate.  Nevertheless, The Governor’s Camp team spent hours in the field trying to find her again and miracle of miracles they spotted her once again on January 24th- still alive and healthy!

The Anne K.Taylor Fund team leader, Elias, managed to contact the  local  Kenya Wildlife Service vet’s assistant, Felix, who is supported by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust( whom we have assisted with many an animal rescue). In turn he contacted Governors Camp manager, Patrick Reynolds who had been monitoring the situation closely since the cub went missing.  Decisions were hard to make as the odds of survival were questionable.  The cub alone would surely not have survived as it was still milk dependent and without the protection of the pride it would have been easy pickings for any passing carnivore – or indeed some of the herbivores which would have taken great delight in killing a lion, their enemy – but if it could be returned to its mother and pride,  it may be rejected  as it would be covered with human scent. In our opinion,  it was worth a gamble!

In agreement with the County of Narok rangers it was decided to attempt a rescue.   Felix drove for many miles to meet up with Patrick and Moses – at which time the cub had gone missing yet again! (Rescues of any sort are never easy as wild animals go where they please!)….finally just before dark she was located again and the rescue began. As you can imagine,  after a few challenges in “capturing” the cub in a blanket, (!) she was released near her mother – and immediately bolted into the bushes and the outcome was not certain.    As it was now dark the team had to leave the pride and hope against hope that the cub would not be rejected by the pride or her mother.

Lost cub up a tree — photo by Moses Manduku
Lost cub up a tree — photo by Moses Manduku

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At first light, the team returned and joy! Joy!  the cub and her siblings were all together with their mother and it is, for now, a happy ending.  I wondered aloud why the lioness would not have gone looking for her missing cub . Patrick put it into perspective for me “Anne, he said, lions cannot count ” !  Thus one missing cub probably went unnoticed….I had never thought of that concept before but it made me even happier that the rescue was successful and the cub was back in the pride with no thanks to her mother!  Only the strongest survive in the wild!

Back with mum
Back with mum

My personal thanks go to all who were involved with the rescue of this lion cub – the compassion shown by Sheldrick’s Felix and his KWS associate were noteworthy.  For them, it is not “just a job” but a  passion and a commitment. Without the  perseverance of Patrick Reynolds, head guide Moses and other  Governor’s Camp staff  this cub would not have had a chance of survival.  It now will grow to be an integral part of the Masai Mara ecosystem, perhaps helping to ensure the very survival of this threatened species, without which Africa would not be the same.  I cannot imagine an Africa without the roar of these magnificent animals with which we have the privilege of sharing this earth.

My sincere thanks to Will Fortescue for these photographs and to Moses Manduku of Governors Camp.

Stuart Pimm is the Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Ecology at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. He is a world leader in the study of present day extinctions and what we can do to prevent them. Pimm received his BSc degree from Oxford University in 1971 and his Ph.D from New Mexico State University in 1974. Pimm is the author of nearly 300 scientific papers and four books. He is one of the most highly cited environmental scientists. Pimm wrote the highly acclaimed assessment of the human impact to the planet: The World According to Pimm: a Scientist Audits the Earth in 2001. His commitment to the interface between science and policy has led to his testimony to both House and Senate Committees on the re-authorization of the Endangered Species Act. He has served on National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration and currently works with their Big Cats Initiative. In addition to his studies in Africa, Pimm has worked in the wet forests of Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil for decades and is a long-term collaborator of the forest fragmentation project north of Manaus, Brazil. Pimm directs SavingSpecies, a 501c3 non-profit that uses funds for carbon emissions offsets to fund local conservation groups to restore degraded lands in areas of exceptional tropical biodiversity. His international honours include the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2010), the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006).
  • Hema Desai

    Thank you all for saving one precious cub…

  • Hema Desai

    Thank you all for saving one precious cub…

  • Judy Tipton

    Thank you for sharing this awesome story & the pics to go with it. Thank you also for rescuing the cub. We need lions!
    I would love to return to Governors Camp & see all the changes you’ve made over the years. Maybe someday soon.
    Again, asante sana for being “Earths Angels”!!

  • Judy Tipton

    Thank you for sharing this awesome story & the pics to go with it. Thank you also for rescuing the cub. We need lions!
    I would love to return to Governors Camp & see all the changes you’ve made over the years. Maybe someday soon.
    Again, asante sana for being “Earths Angels”!!

  • Alison Fitzgerald

    Fantastic news. Well done. It is so good to get some good news with all the poaching and killing of wildlife in Africa. You restore the balance of faith in man! Thank you.

  • Alison Fitzgerald

    Fantastic news. Well done. It is so good to get some good news with all the poaching and killing of wildlife in Africa. You restore the balance of faith in man! Thank you.

  • James Dunn

    An amazing story – the professionalism of the teams at Governors Camp, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Kenya Wildlife Service should all be highly praised.

  • James Dunn

    An amazing story – the professionalism of the teams at Governors Camp, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Kenya Wildlife Service should all be highly praised.

  • Dana

    Thank you for this article. Many of us on Facebook groups were worried sick about the little cub. Hope this little one has learned it’s lesson about straying from Mom. Question – why do the people involved in the rescue not wear gloves to avoid human scent? Cudo’s to ALL those involved in this rescue!!!

  • Dana

    Thank you for this article. Many of us on Facebook groups were worried sick about the little cub. Hope this little one has learned it’s lesson about straying from Mom. Question – why do the people involved in the rescue not wear gloves to avoid human scent? Cudo’s to ALL those involved in this rescue!!!

  • Rochelle Spagnola

    Amazing Story!!!!!!!

  • Rochelle Spagnola

    Amazing Story!!!!!!!

  • Lucy Fortescue

    Well done William, you are so clever!

    Carry on doing what do!

  • Lucy Fortescue

    Well done William, you are so clever!

    Carry on doing what do!

  • Linda Willis

    Thank-you for your patience and compassion for this situation. God bless !

  • Linda Willis

    Thank-you for your patience and compassion for this situation. God bless !

  • Julia Sinclair

    Perfect for an unusual bedtime story for my granddaughter!
    Wonderful effort by all.
    I suppose it’s lucky animals can’t count very well – it must save them a lot of distress which would waste a lot of their valuable energy needed for survival.?

  • Julia Sinclair

    Perfect for an unusual bedtime story for my granddaughter!
    Wonderful effort by all.
    I suppose it’s lucky animals can’t count very well – it must save them a lot of distress which would waste a lot of their valuable energy needed for survival.?

  • Melinda Mueller

    Every single lion is precious! I am SO GRATEFUL to the many dedicated people who gave the little baby girl every chance to reunite with her mama and sibling. This is a wonderful story….and a rare spot of good news that we are all so very hungry for these days….

  • Melinda Mueller

    Every single lion is precious! I am SO GRATEFUL to the many dedicated people who gave the little baby girl every chance to reunite with her mama and sibling. This is a wonderful story….and a rare spot of good news that we are all so very hungry for these days….

  • Lane Hatcher

    You all, every one, ROCK. THANK YOU.

  • Lane Hatcher

    You all, every one, ROCK. THANK YOU.

  • R.N

    Happy ending

  • R.N

    Happy ending

  • DeeDee McMillan

    A very heartfelt thank you to each person involved! This kind of passion and commitment gives me hope that we will indeed be able to save our big cats.

  • DeeDee McMillan

    A very heartfelt thank you to each person involved! This kind of passion and commitment gives me hope that we will indeed be able to save our big cats.

  • Christine R Daoust

    If I was a wealthy person I would give 3/4 of my money to saving and protecting these beautiful animals. Thank all of you from my heart and soul!

  • Christine R Daoust

    If I was a wealthy person I would give 3/4 of my money to saving and protecting these beautiful animals. Thank all of you from my heart and soul!

  • Sagar Jani

    Amazing work, keep up the fight to save the last of these amazing animals

  • Sagar Jani

    Amazing work, keep up the fight to save the last of these amazing animals

  • Annabelle Kinnear

    What a wonderful story. I am so pleased mother, baby & siblings where reunited. Thank you to the awsome people for your continuous & relentless hard work. We need to protect these beautiful cats at all costs.

  • Annabelle Kinnear

    What a wonderful story. I am so pleased mother, baby & siblings where reunited. Thank you to the awsome people for your continuous & relentless hard work. We need to protect these beautiful cats at all costs.

  • M. Diane Ryan

    Great outcome for those that were able to save that cub. We are thankful for their wonderful efforts on the part of all the lions there. That baby is back with its Momma where she should be thanks to them. Great job!!!

  • M. Diane Ryan

    Great outcome for those that were able to save that cub. We are thankful for their wonderful efforts on the part of all the lions there. That baby is back with its Momma where she should be thanks to them. Great job!!!

  • Jaak Ryffranck

    Very touching story and hopeful that there are people with such passionate commitment to saveguard this symbol of Africa.

  • Jaak Ryffranck

    Very touching story and hopeful that there are people with such passionate commitment to saveguard this symbol of Africa.

  • annette buckby

    This is a such a heart warming story, a happy ending !

  • annette buckby

    This is a such a heart warming story, a happy ending !

  • bonnie smith

    It’s always great to hear a positive outcome like this.
    Every one of these animals is precious and a gift to
    anyone who has the pleasure of seeing them in the
    wild.
    Good work and thank you for all the work that you do!

  • bonnie smith

    It’s always great to hear a positive outcome like this.
    Every one of these animals is precious and a gift to
    anyone who has the pleasure of seeing them in the
    wild.
    Good work and thank you for all the work that you do!

  • Nancy

    Stories like this touch me deeply; I applaud and support all efforts to save these magnificent animals.
    (Cats are the best, of course.)

  • Nancy

    Stories like this touch me deeply; I applaud and support all efforts to save these magnificent animals.
    (Cats are the best, of course.)

  • Diane Leuck

    What a wonderful story. Africa ‘s wildlife is some of the most exotic and beautiful in the world. We must save them from extinction.

  • Diane Leuck

    What a wonderful story. Africa ‘s wildlife is some of the most exotic and beautiful in the world. We must save them from extinction.

  • Abu Daud

    Hard work and excellent teamwork by taking the danger and expense of wakru finally yielded maximum results, keep fighting man!

  • Abu Daud

    Hard work and excellent teamwork by taking the danger and expense of wakru finally yielded maximum results, keep fighting man!

  • Abu Daud

    Hard work and team work very well with through danger and sacrifice of time, finally maximum results, continue to struggle comrade!

  • Abu Daud

    Hard work and team work very well with through danger and sacrifice of time, finally maximum results, continue to struggle comrade!

  • Guenwyvar

    Bless all of you for saving that precious little cub !!

  • Guenwyvar

    Bless all of you for saving that precious little cub !!

  • Robert Boutin

    Thank-you for all you do to save the wildlife…..our grandkids will get to see them….

  • Robert Boutin

    Thank-you for all you do to save the wildlife…..our grandkids will get to see them….

  • Jacinta Edebeli

    Great job! Thank you and keep up the good work.

  • Jacinta Edebeli

    Great job! Thank you and keep up the good work.

  • Devika Rani

    Wow that was a great effort to rescue the cub. I wonder how expensive the tagging and tracking system can be as the numbers for lions and tigers are decreasing for sure because of habitat loss or human-animal conflicts.

  • Devika Rani

    Wow that was a great effort to rescue the cub. I wonder how expensive the tagging and tracking system can be as the numbers for lions and tigers are decreasing for sure because of habitat loss or human-animal conflicts.

  • Nesma Amr

    How amazing <3

  • Nesma Amr

    How amazing <3

  • M.D.Williams

    I really appreciate your dedication and courage.Keep it up. God bless.

  • Chris Kosier

    What I wouldn’t give to be able to help in this way. What a beautiful reunion this must have been.

  • Chris Kosier

    What I wouldn’t give to be able to help in this way. What a beautiful reunion this must have been.

  • Chris Kosier

    What a wonderful reunion this must have been. Great job for persevering!

  • Chris Kosier

    What a wonderful reunion this must have been. Great job for persevering!

  • anne kent taylor

    Thank you all for following this story and for the positive comments. It is nice to be able to report happy news. The lioness and cubs are still all together. It was certainly worth the effort of all who helped with this rescue!

  • anne kent taylor

    Thank you all for following this story and for the positive comments. It is nice to be able to report happy news. The lioness and cubs are still all together. It was certainly worth the effort of all who helped with this rescue!

  • Nizam Jeeawody

    Thanks for this inspiring article .Hats off for this great job .Looking after God”s creatures is part of faith.

  • Nizam Jeeawody

    Thanks for this inspiring article .Hats off for this great job .Looking after God”s creatures is part of faith.

  • Minh Nguyen

    Great story!
    I am running a bootcamp for the month of February and I am donating all on my income to help save big cats!

  • Minh Nguyen

    Great story!
    I am running a bootcamp for the month of February and I am donating all on my income to help save big cats!

  • christina wickstein

    thank you all for what you do:) your blessed:) amen

  • christina wickstein

    thank you all for what you do:) your blessed:) amen

  • sheila gunning

    What a happy ending to an amazing tale.Well done all involved.

  • sheila gunning

    What a happy ending to an amazing tale.Well done all involved.

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