The lioness, Amelia, has just given birth. Now that the rainy season is beginning, we had to dig and winch ourselves out of a good share of mud on our journey to find her. We finally found her under this palm tree with her newborn cubs. We could only briefly hear the cubs today but we hope to report back soon on these exciting new additions to the Gorongosa family.
This is the quintessential face of Gorongosa lions…highly elusive, wild animals that are very difficult to locate. The GPS collars we deploy go far beyond just being a research tool… they are our “conservation anchors,” and they help us save lives. Tracking groups weekly, keeping them out of snares and hands of poachers, deploying our rapid-response vet unit effectively, and of course keeping track of precious young cubs. Trail camera photos also help us capture candid photos of lions in their habitats. You can learn more about how we use these tools by watching this video.
I am proud to say that I just passed my driver’s test! Getting a driver’s license is something that not many Mozambicans have an opportunity to do. I feel very fortunate that the Gorongosa science team has supported me in taking driving lessons and passing the test! This is not just a great personal achievement for me, but it is also so important for the work that I do. Paola Bouley usually drives all of us on her team to do field work, but now that the team is growing and the area to cover is so large, we can divide and conquer! With this new skill, I look forward to helping lead the Gorongosa Lion Project researchers for years to come.
Forty new scouts graduated in Gorongosa National Park this week. Young men from communities surrounding the Park that passed a rigorous selection and training and will now go on to endure unimaginable hardships in the field to defend the wildlife and ecosystems of the Park. They are on the frontlines of lion conservation and we are so proud of their achievement. Congratulations!
We just had to post this sweet family moment from WildCam. Elephants are such amazing creatures with strong family bonds. As the holidays approach we are thankful for our own families, Gorongosa’s animal families, and our WildCam Gorongosa family! Thank you for all of your help to make this research possible!
These trail cameras capture some of the coolest photos I’ve ever seen – like this close up of a male lion. It’s also great for identifying individuals by looking at the pattern of their whisker spots.
This batch of photos on WildCam is over 60% complete and we couldn’t be more excited and grateful for the data that you all are gathering. The next batch of photos will be ready to upload soon, so here is a sneak peek!
It’s a very dry year across the region and the wild creatures are struggling, but this is Africa and animals are adapted to these extremes. This morning as we were doing our routine checks and preparing to collar Leila we encountered numerous baboon carcasses on the floodplain and dry river-bed. These baboons may have been hunted by Leila or one of the other juvenile lions. That’s a great sign and an even better one is this Bateleur, a type of raptor, feeding on the baboon carcass. This demonstrates a complete food chain where each of the animals have a role to play. We still have work to do to increase numbers of certain species, but we have come a long way.
Cleopatra of the Sungue pride stares us down and demands respect. We know better than to get too close. We will observe her strength and beauty from afar.
It’s the dry season, so it’s not the height of Gorongosa’s baby animal season (that usually happens in the spring as rains recede). But there are still plenty of baby animals around, which is a good sign! Carlos Serra captured this particularly adorable photo shoot of a baby vervet monkey with its family.
Wire snares are traps that poachers set to catch antelopes for food, but snares don’t discriminate between an antelope and a lion. Sometimes lions are the unfortunate victims of snares. Our rangers and vet team are called out to save these lions all too often and today was no exception. Our vet, Rui Branco, organized an operation to tranquilize a coalition of two male lions, one of whom had a snare around its leg. Rui gathered his team, helicopter pilot Mike Pingo, colleague Louis Van Wyk, and our own Paola Bouley to fly out to a remote area in a Jet Ranger helicopter. Rui successfully darted both males, put GPS collars on them and removed the snare from this adult maneless lion we’ve named “Jatu”. This is another life saved, and a new group of lions to keep under our watchful eye.