This young male Lion, estimated at 18 to 24 months old, was discovered by game scouts carrying out an anti-poaching patrol on the Eastern border of Mozambique’s Official Coutada 9’s conservation area.
The male Lion had been caught in a poachers gin trap and was in a bad way, although he had a healthy young lioness with him.
In situation like this we would normally recommend that the animal be euthanised. But, after hearing that other cats have managed to hunt successfully and breed with only 3 legs we decided to give him a fighting chance.
Luckily, we were able to organise STS wildlife veterinarian, Joao Almeida, to fly up by private charter from Maputo to attend to this unlucky male Lion.
In an operation that lasted over 3 hours the trap was removed and a clean amputation was carried out on the destroyed joints. Thoroughly cleaned and with a long acting anti-biotic administered, the wound was sutured in a manner that will allow the stump to bear weight on undamaged tissue. The prognosis is that he has a good chance to make a recovery.
Rio Save Safaris staff will continue to drop meat in the nearby vicinity of the cats and allow them to find easy meals until he is back on his feet, well at least 3 of them.
This is not the first time Rio Save Safaris has helped a trapped Lion. But, it is the first time we could get rapid veterinarian care for the animal.
Why are Lions important?
Lions are keystone species, meaning they have a great influence on the environment they live in. Without them the environment would be different. This is because Lions are apex predators meaning they are at the top of the food chain. They play an integral role in maintaining healthy populations of their prey such as Zebra and Wildebeest. This is by usually preying on the oldest, sickest or weakest members of the population. They also help to keep prey densities in check and prevent them over consuming food resources. This allows for a balanced ecosystem. Lions in particular are so important as they are the only big cats capable of taking larger prey down such as Elephants, thereby helping to maintain these populations.
Lions are also one of Africa’s big 5. This term originally referred to the five most sought after prizes for big game hunters. However, today the term generally refers to the most popular animals for safari-goers. This means that Lions essentially play an important role for the economies of many countries.
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