Liuwa Plain National Park’s Lady Liuwa: a lonely lioness no more

Posted by Christie Fynn on 17 March 2012

Many of you may have watched the documentary on Lady Liuwa, the last lioness in Zambia‘s Liuwa Plain National Park. Poaching and trophy hunting wiped out all of her kind and for five years she roamed the plains alone. The introduction of two males to mate with Lady Liuwa proved unsuccessful as she proved to be infertile. Two lionesses were due to be released in December 2011, just after we left, so that they could mate with the males and form a pride. We were lucky enough to see the two young females that were being kept in a boma. The females had to be young enough so that Lady Liuwa wouldn’t see them as a threat and potentially kill them but old enough to not be considered a threat to the males (male lions will often kill another male’s offspring).

What makes ‘Lady’ an interesting case is that she sought human companionship after all of her kind had been wiped out. Documentary maker, Herbert Brauer, caught much of this on camera and his film is not only heartwarming but also provides profound insight into lion behaviour. When we found ‘Lady’ she was sleeping in a thicket where Brauer usually sets up his camp. Brauer had asked to be there for the release of the two new lionesses and the park officials were waiting for his return.

Craig Hay, operations manager of Liuwa Plain National Park, wrote to me at the end of February:

The two lionesses have been released and have settled in alright. They have been hanging around the south-western boundary. They have not been together with Lady Liuwa or the two males but have stuck together. They seem to be doing fine and with time will sort out where they want to settle. We can’t get to them by land as the park is flooded but have been monitoring them by air.

We’re holding thumbs that the males mate with the females and form a pride of their own.


Watch the ‘The Last Lioness’ documentary on YouTube.

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