Lion Research in Hwange – Hwange National Park is home to one of Africa’s largest and most successful lion conservation programs. A large part of their success comes from the way researchers use radio collars and track how many times they venture outside the park’s boundaries. Jane Hunt, a predator researcher in the park for decades, used telemetry equipment to track a transient, collared male lion that recently settled with around ten females and had young cubs.
Tracking Lions – It took a full day of searching to pinpoint their location, and eventually when the telemetry equipment began to get louder, Jane narrowed down the direction. The car, then, had to drive straight through grass nearly six feet high until we came upon a massive elephant carcass. Then, it took only moments for the lions to appear out of the grass and we watched as the female lions fed on the elephant carcass before bringing out the single cub that had survived to this age to feed. Before we left the pride, the male finally stood up, stretched out, and took a brief walk around the elephant.
A Shapeshifting Lion Hunt – Cecil the lion, once a prominent symbol of Hwange National Park and a fierce rival of the male lion we tracked, was lured out of the park with food in 2015 and killed by an American hunter. He was part of a major study by Oxford University on lions in Hwange and was collared by Jane Hunt. His death sparked a public outrage and initiated a complete overhaul of rules for big game hunters in Africa. It also brought global attention to the debate about hunting as a form of conservation.