Lions and grazing animals in Serengeti, Africa

This 2015 video from Tanzania is called WILDLIFE IN SERENGETI | Wild animals | Serengeti National Park.

From Rice University in the USA:

Where lions operate, grazers congregate … provided food is great

Lion danger can foster mixed-species herds in Africa’s Serengeti

August 17, 2020

Meals are typically family affairs for zebras, gazelles, cape buffalo and other grazing species in the African Serengeti, but in one of the first studies of its kind, ecologists have found grazing species can be more willing to share meals in areas frequented by lions.

The study, which is available online this week in the journal Ecology, was conducted by a team from Rice University, Princeton University, Wake Forest University and the University of Minnesota. They analyzed more than 115,000 camera-trap photos to see where, when and how often six of the Serengeti’s most abundant grazing species — cape buffalo, gazelle, hartebeest, topi, wildebeest and zebra — formed mixed-species groups.

“The mixed-species groups occur near places where lions like to hunt, which suggests the grazers are trying to reduce their chances of being killed by predators,” said Rice lead-author Lydia Beaudrot.

Mixed-species groups of grazers were found in 1.9% of the camera-trap photos, which were collected between 2010-2015 in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and processed by volunteers for the citizen science website Camera-trap findings were combined with information from long-term GPS collar monitoring by the Serengeti Lion Project and satellite imagery that showed both the location of hunting areas favored by lions and where and when food was plentiful or scarce for grazers.

“Mixed-species groups were most likely in ‘risky’ places, like woodland habitats and near rocky outcroppings that lions use as viewsheds,” said Beaudrot, an assistant professor of biosciences.

But the threat from lions apparently isn’t the only thing grazers have to consider.

“One of the most interesting results is that grazers in mixed-species groups appear to be making a tradeoff between the risk of being eaten and the need to eat,” Beaudrot said.

Mixed-species groups were less likely to form when plant productivity was low, she said, which suggests there is a foraging cost associated with mixed-species grazing, said study co-author Meredith Palmer, a behavioral ecologist and postdoctoral fellow at Princeton.

“These animals face a trade-off,” Palmer said. “When different species group together, each individual is less likely to be eaten by a lion than it would be if it were alone or even possibly with its own species. But each individual is also foraging, and if they get further apart they don’t have to compete as much for food. As forage becomes more scarce, these animals have to decide whether the extra food they would get from grazing alone is worth the increased danger from lions.”

The study focuses on a longstanding idea in ecology called the ‘stress gradient hypothesis,’ which holds that species are more likely to compete with one another when times are good and more likely to benefit each other when they’re under stress, Beaudrot said.

“The hypothesis is supported by the findings from more than 700 plant studies, but it’s rarely been applied to animals because mixed-species behavior is rare and there typically aren’t enough data about it to draw statistically significant conclusions,” she said.

The collaboration began when Beaudrot heard Palmer describe the Snapshot Serengeti database in a talk at the 2018 Gordon Research Conference on Predator-Prey Interactions. While mixed-species groups had previously been documented in animals, including primates, cetaceans, ungulates, fish and birds, Palmer and Beaudrot realized that the size of the Snapshot Serengeti camera-trap database would allow them a rare opportunity to not simply observe mixed-species groups but to examine the ecological context within which they occur.

“Our findings partially support the hypothesis,” Beaudrot said. “On the one hand, we found mixed-species groups were more likely to occur when stress was high because of predators, but we also found that mixed-species groups were less likely to form when stress from food scarcity was high, which suggests that stress can also lead to increased competition.”

She and Palmer said there are also plenty of questions to address with follow-up research, including how mixed-species groups better protects grazers from lions.

“The larger groups could provide more warning of lions because there are more eyes for vigilance, or that individual species in the group benefit from the behavior of other species in a way that they wouldn’t if they had grazed on their own,” Palmer said. “Or it could simply be that the odds of any one individual being eaten go down if it’s part of a larger group. Our study can’t differentiate between any of those mechanisms.”

Seven animals which may kill lions

This 9 July 2020 video says about itself:

They say only a lion can kill a lion, but mighty and strong as they are, even these wildcats sometimes become the victims of their intended prey.

There are in fact a handful of animals who are big, brave and strong enough to put up a fight that can end very badly for the lion and defeat him easily.

Are you ready to meet the king of the jungle’s most fearsome opponents? These situations are like animals fighting and messing with wrong opponents.

Saving lions in Kenya, video

This 1 July 2020 video says about itself:

Humans, Climate, and Lions – Oh My: Climate and weather have vast implications for almost all forms of life. Join “Warrior Watch” as Jeneria Lekilelei, a warrior from the Samburu fights to protect lions under the harsh conditions of extreme drought.

Lion cubs see-saw play, video

This 11 June 2020 video from South Africa says about itself:

Watch the cute moment a group of ferocious lion cubs is left on their own, and they discover the all-new See-Saw!

This adorable sighting was filmed by Daniel Bailey, a guide for MalaMala Game Reserve, when he was on a tour with his guests.

The lion cubs in this sighting, part of the Kambula Pride, were left alone for the afternoon on a stump of fallen over trees, while the adults were fast asleep.

One cub decided to be adventurous and tried balancing while walking all over the fallen trees. When he reached the end, he didn’t notice that the tree itself was having a hard time balancing, just like a see-saw. The tree tipped over to the other side, with the lion on top!

Although the little cub got a bit of a fright, this is nothing lions can’t handle!

Slowly, one by one, all the cubs then went and had a go on the new ride.

Nice way to be entertained!

Elephants versus lions in South Africa

This 16 January 2020 video from South Africa says about itself:

Elephant herd confronts a lion pride

An elephant herd that was drinking in a waterhole in Kruger park chased a lion pride that had caught something. The elephant herd was just being cautious for their young ones.

Filmed and credit via Brent Schnupp.

South African crocodile fights five lions, video

This 28 April 2020 video from South Africa says about itself:

Cornered Crocodile is Forced to Attack 5 Lions

These lions left their waterbuck scraps lying around, which a crocodile thought was an easy meal. But, no, these lions weren’t giving up their scraps so easy.

Watch the shocking moment a crocodile finds himself completely surrounded by a pride of lions, and has no other option but to use his jaw strength and speed to get away!

This video was taken one early morning, by Vernon Cresswell (61) in Buffelshoek in the Sabi Sands area, Greater Kruger Park. He managed to capture a pride of lionesses and cubs trying to corner a crocodile that was about to steal their waterbuck meal.

Vernon told of the drive that led up to this sighting:

“We managed to track a pride of lions in that area that is called the Talamati Pride. This had taken down a male waterbuck just a few hours before. All of them had fed on the buck and left the carcass about 100m from the dam.”

“A crocodile obviously sensed that there was a carcass nearby, so he left the water to investigate and maybe get an easy meal.”

“When the croc got onto land, it was only a few meters from the waters’ edge. Some of the younger lions (9 cubs) showed some interest and moved closer to see what this creature was up to. After a little while, some of the adult females (5 in total) noticed what was happening and came to the scene.”

“At first, it seemed they toyed with the crocodile to test his reflex and speed. Soon after this toying, the crocodile let off a massive snap as it clenched its jaw. The croc snapped his jaws at the lions in an attempt to defend itself. This caused the lions to launch a full-on mob at the crocodile.”

“The lions were all taken by surprise, but their reflexes were faster than the speed of the crocodile, and they soon got the upper hand. The crocodile sensed it has no chance and scurried back towards the water, finally disappearing into the dam.

“With the hippos snorting madly in the distance, we were amazed by the sighting, and we were excited to see how it would play out. We’ve been going to the bush regularly for 30 years, and not once have we seen something like this. Always anticipate what can happen, and put yourself in the right place and just be patient. Nature usually pays off!”

Wildlife benefits from coronavirus lockdown

This 11 April 2020 video says about itself:

At the Urubo Golf Country Club in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, world’s friendliest rodents capybaras have been spotted more frequently in recent days as the club has not been frequented often due to the coronavirus outbreak, as footage filmed on Saturday shows.

Dozens of rodents could be seen moving in herds and swimming in the lagoon of the exclusive resort now deserted.

As a local worker explained, up to 40 capybaras took over the grounds of the golf club since the quarantine started.

The mammals, which are usually seen in smaller numbers in the area, are known as the largest rodent in the world and are a native species of Bolivia.

The country, whose government declared a quarantine on March 21, recorded 139 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 10 deaths as of Saturday.

See also this tweet from South Africa.

5 reasons you might be seeing more wildlife during the COVID-19 pandemic. From rats and coyotes in the streets to birds in the trees, people are noticing more animals than ever during the time of the coronavirus. By Bethany Brookshire, June 5, 2020.

Daily global CO2 emissions dropped dramatically as COVID-19 kept people home. Daily carbon dioxide emissions in early April were 17 percent lower than average daily emissions for 2019, thanks to government policies to restrict the spread of the coronavirus. By Carolyn Gramling, May 19, 2020.

The U.K.’s CO2 emissions dropped to a 100-year low in lockdown.

West African lions, new research

This 2016 video says about itself:

Searching for the last lions in Nigeria

Finding a lion in Nigeria’s Yankari Game reserve is no mean feat, with just 400 lions remaining in West Africa and no simple solution to saving the ones that remain.

From the University of Michigan in the USA:

Where lions roam: West African big cats show no preference between national parks, hunting zones

March 30, 2020

West African lions are a critically endangered subpopulation, with an estimated 400 remaining and strong evidence of ongoing declines.

About 90% of these lions live in West Africa’s largest protected area complex, the W-Arly-Pendjari. The WAP Complex includes five national parks and 14 hunting concessions across roughly 10,200 square miles in Burkina Faso, Niger and Benin.

Given that wildlife protection is one of the main purposes of a national park, you might expect West African lions to favor life inside park boundaries, rather than within the privately managed hunting concessions that surround the parks. After all, lions tend to shun people, and human pressures are higher in hunting areas than in the parks.

But a new University of Michigan-led camera survey of West African lions — believed to be the largest wildlife camera survey ever undertaken in West Africa and the first carried out within WAP Complex national parks and hunting concessions — found that West African lions show no statistically significant preference between the parks and trophy-hunting areas.

The findings, scheduled for publication March 30 in the Journal of Applied Ecology, have implications for conservation management of the remaining West African lions.

“Our results suggest habitat quality in national parks is inadequate, leading to a lack of preference in lions despite lower human pressures,” said doctoral student Kirby Mills of U-M’s Applied Wildlife Ecology (AWE) Lab, lead author of the study.

The researchers suspect that the lure of plentiful water, high-quality habitat and abundant prey on hunting properties outweigh the lions’ natural avoidance of humans. Revenues from trophy hunting pay for enhanced infrastructure such as irrigation systems and solar-powered pumps at watering holes, as well as added patrol staff.

At the same time, under-resourced national parks struggle to deal with degraded wildlife habitat, poachers, inadequate staffing and displacement of wildlife by livestock, which are permitted within the parks.

“We recommend prioritizing the reduction of habitat degradation in the parks and increasing water availability to increase suitable habitat for lions and their prey,” said Mills, who conducted the study for her master’s thesis at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability. “But at the same time, we recognize that management interventions at a large scale require economic resources unavailable to park managers in WAP, an incongruity prolific throughout the range of African lions.”

The study’s senior author is Nyeema Harris, an assistant professor in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and director of the AWE Lab. Harris designed the project and led the fieldwork with an international team that included government employees and students from Burkina Faso and Niger.

In the U-M-led study, 238 motion-activated digital cameras were deployed across 5,000 square miles in three WAP Complex national parks and 11 of the hunting concessions. The fieldwork was conducted from February through June in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Some 1.7 million images were captured during that time, but West African lions triggered the shutter just 96 times, reflecting the critically endangered feline’s scarcity. The cameras were programmed to rapid-fire three to five frames when triggered, so the total number of lion images is 360.

The camera data were used in two types of mathematical models — occupancy models and structural equation models. The occupancy models allowed the researchers to calculate the probability that an animal used a given space, while the SEM models enabled them to disentangle the relative effects of environmental, ecological and anthropogenic factors influencing space use by West African lions.

The researchers found that lion occupancy was largely driven by prey availability, which in turn was shaped by ecological and environmental variables — such as water availability and habitat diversity — that scored higher in hunting concessions than in national parks.

Contrary to the researchers’ expectations, the WAP Complex lions showed no discernable preference between national parks and hunting zones. The U-M-led study provides the first estimate of West African lion occupancy using camera-trap data.

“We hypothesize that ecological cues indicating high-quality habitat, such as plentiful water and available prey, are mitigating the expected avoidance response to the increased human pressures and competitor activity in hunting concessions,” Harris said.

“Because the lions rely heavily on prey, managers may be able to manipulate the distribution of prey within WAP to directly influence spatial distributions of lions and indirectly reduce human-lion conflict.

Stretching across three countries in the West African savanna belt, the WAP Complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is described by the U.N. agency as “a refuge for wildlife species that have disappeared elsewhere in West Africa or are highly threatened.”

Trophy hunting is permitted in all of the WAP Complex concessions but is illegal in the five national parks and in Niger’s Tamou game reserve, which is part of the protected area complex. The lions are known to feed on several species of antelope, as well as savanna buffalos and warthogs. Predators that compete with the lions for food include spotted hyenas and leopards.

West African lions are categorized as critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. In its 2015 assessment, the IUCN states that the West African lion subpopulation is estimated at just above 400 animals, with fewer than 250 mature individuals.

West African lions are smaller than, and genetically distinct from, other African lions. They form smaller prides, and the males have little to no mane.

“This population continues to decline,” the IUCN assessment states. “Further deterioration of the last protected areas harbouring lions in West Africa will likely lead to the local extinction of the species.”