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Amelia’s new cubs

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.

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A New Lion Family

We’ve been tracking an elusive lioness who has been rearing cubs amidst the thick palm forests along the Pungue River (and just behind the Chitengo tourist camp). A patrol sighting earlier in the day followed by smart thinking by our scout, Chintsomba, led us to her in no time. As night fell and the moon rose in the sky, we quietly tracked her as she led us on her hunt. She quickly captured a warthog for her hungry cubs. We even got to hear the little cubs roar. What a night!

We took photos to identify her and fitted her with a GPS collar so we can continue monitoring her family. With two beautiful 5 month old cubs in tow, this is such a gift for us all!

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Tracking Elusive Lions

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.

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Extreme Lion Close Up

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!

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Respect.

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.

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Another lion caught in a snare

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.

Rui Branco darts the lions from the helicopter.

Rui Branco darts the lions from the helicopter.

Rui Branco removes a snare from Jaku.

Rui Branco removes a snare from Jatu.

Louis, Mike, and Paola with the new male that we'll be tracking.

Louis, Mike, and Paola with the new male that we’ll be tracking.

2 lion cubs vs 1 hippo

This is a rare showdown caught on camera – two lion cubs stare down a hippo in the floodplain deep inside Gorongosa. Even at this young age, I think these two cubs know better than to mess with a several ton hippo. Hippos are notoriously territorial and, even though they only eat plants, they are considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. These two cubs are keeping a safe distance but their curiosity is getting the best of them.

Two lion cubs stare down a hippo... or maybe its the other way around.

Two lion cubs stare down a hippo… or maybe its the other way around.