On Monday September 16th, Rufunsa Conservancy Wildlife Scouts reported seeing lion tracks at the road junction to the Headquarters, just 1km from the new tourism campsite that we have built. They saw the tracks of four adult lions heading north east and then on Tuesday, they found tracks in the same area heading south, back towards Lower Zambezi National Park. This is now the second time we have picked up active lion spoor in the area but it is not surprising bearing in mind that the Mwambeshi River is the only source of water in this whole section of the escarpment right now.
We do not have any information on these lions and there are no historical records to work with that may indicate whether lions are normally active here at this time of year. We are encouraged to think that all the wildlife is benefitting from our full time presence in the area but it is still early in the project’s life and there is no real baseline data to draw from. So, when our scouts on a patrol picked up lion spoor again on September 21st and reported that they had found the site of a lion kill, we got very interested.
The lions had killed a sable within the last few days and the carcass was just off the road along the Mwambeshi River right on the boundary of Rufunsa Conservancy and Lower Zambezi National Park. The sable was an old adult bull with huge sweeping horns and a very black coat. It is unfortunate that such a magnificent specimen was the meal that they chose but it is possible that he was very old and starting to lose condition and that is why he fell prey.
The tracks of at least three lions were sighted around the kill, one of which was a youngster, perhaps only a year or so old. The other two lion tracks were from mature animals, possibly one male and one female. The sable was killed next to the road and disembowelled and then dragged into a nearby thicket where they would have finished the meal in relative comfort. This is encouraging for us on a couple of different levels. Firstly that lions are active in the area and making kills which hopefully will anchor them here for a while longer and secondly to know that there are still some very old magnificent male sable around in this Conservancy. The site of the kill was about 800 metres from our new tourism campsite so hopefully there will be a real live lion sighting by real live tourists on Rufunsa Conservancy before the year is out.
— By Dorian Tilbury, Rufunsa Conservancy, Project Manager