Lions Kill a Giraffe

In our mountainous study area prey can be difficult to come by. One lion pride based in the mountains of the Ombonde river catchment has adjusted to this challenge by becoming adept giraffe hunters. During the recent full moon period they waited until the hours just before sunrise to chase and capture a giraffe in the riverbed.

Reconstruction of the chase and capture afterward clearly indicated a level of teamwork, whereby the giraffe was chased into the riverbed where a second lion was waiting in a stand of mopane trees. Cornered, the giraffe was unable to leave the riverbed and eventually succumb.

That evening one adult male, three females, and three small cubs came to feed on the giraffe. Observations during the full moon revealed how the adult females encouraged the cubs to eat from the carcass. They also showed lions sharing the carcass with a black-back jackal and cubs moving boldly through the site, largely unescorted.

Observing lion behavior regarding the kill and giraffe carcass presents interesting insights (and questions) into the sociality of this group, lions in the arid area, and the species in general. We are looking forward to continuing to monitor this pride.

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