African Parks Network has reported that Lady Liuwa and the young lioness have been released from the enclosure and have remained together, signs that the two lions are forming a pride. The lions were released on October 19, 2012, and have separated only for Lady to hunt.
This is fantastic news for Lady Liuwa and the lions of Liuwa Plain. The attempts to end Lady’s isolation and establish a viable lion population have been fraught with tragedy. In October of 2011, two young lionesses were translocated from Kafue National Park. With Lady likely infertile, it was anticipated that the young lionesses would mate with the two males and begin the re-establishment of natural lions on the Liuwa Plain. Unfortunately, in June of 2012 one of the young females was killed in a poacher’s snare.
With the surviving lioness frightened and alone, African Parks Network made the bold decision to place Lady and the young lioness in a holding enclosure, in hopes that they would bond. Though unrelated female lions rarely form prides and Lady had previously shown aggression towards the young females, it was the only feasible approach. The young lioness had reduced chances of survival without her sister and was straying beyond the park boundaries into Angola.
Because of Lady’s extended isolation and instant affection for the translocated males, it was not unreasonable for her to bond with the young lioness, with some outside assistance. The young lioness was accustomed to having a female companion and would likely appreciate the security of the resident lion. The gamble paid off and after several weeks together in the holding enclosure, the two females are roaming the park together.
Apparently one of the males has stopped by to check up on the ladies and the beginnings of a pride forming on Liuwa Plain. Lion Voice will be visiting the park on November 25 and will hopefully have further updates.