Stories of animals adapting to conditions within their environment to survive fascinate me so reading about the desert lions of Namibia was another example of animals adapting in the face of hardship. The landscape is harsh and dry but has a coast which attracts sea birds and seals along with other marine creatures sometimes washed up on the beach that the lions are learning to exploit. They have been observed feeding on carcasses and actively hunting seals along the beach as well as the birds that inhabit the area showing just how smart lions are and adaptable. I think it also shows that lions have a great instinct to survive even when they have been persecuted, that if we give them a chance to live that they will.
Yet again the sickening news that an American hunter has paid $100,000 to kill a precious animal reaches us. This time it's a Markhor goat an endangered animal and national symbol of Pakistan. Not only that permits were issued to kill other horned species in the Himalayas with the claim that the money is used for conservation. How could any intelligent person believe that by killing a rare and endangered animal you aid conservation ? It's is ludicrous and shameful. There are only about 6000 of the Markhor left and not only that these animals along with Baral and Blue sheep form the diet of the snow leopard one of the most endangered big cats on the planet. This cat already has enormous obstacles to survival and finding enough food is one of them. How can Pakistan continue to justify issuing permits to kill these animals is beyond me.
Nature will always amaze....and the story of a lioness in Gir Forest India adopting a leopard cub is one of the more astounding ones. As supreme predators and competitors in the wild these two species usually don't tolerate each other. Lions generally kill leopards any chance they get. It's intriguing to speculate on the outcome of this unusual arrangement that foresters have no idea about how it occurred. Observations of the family group of lion cubs with the leopard cub nursing show a lioness caring for the leopard cub as if it was one of her own. What happens when they join the pride will be even more to wonder about, will the cub be accepted or singled out and killed as you would expect ? It is a leopard with a whole other way of living as a solitary cat rather than part of a pride like the lions so it really is fascinating to think about. I hope the little guy gets accepted but the chances are probably slim.
In 2017 a lioness was spotted nursing a leopard cub in Tanzania but no one knew how that had happened or what the outcome was. What is understood is that the lioness accepts the foreign cub because she is nursing cubs or has perhaps lost her own just as a domestic cat will adopt kittens that are not her theirs.
Like most people who care deeply about wildlife I can only be happy to see animals living as they should wild and free. But what about the animals that have been rescued from captive situations ? Animals are like us, they learn key survival skills from their mothers and living in a natural environment so how do they learn those skills if they have been reared in captivity with human contact ? They realistically only have a chance of surviving in the wild if they are not habituated to humans so if they have grown up captive how would that be possible. Since our attitudes to wild animals are changing so are laws about keeping them and it's not before time but there are a lot of animals kept as pets or entertainment in the world. Some have a better chance of being rehabilitated than others which depends on the way they live in the wild. One of the most astounding success stories was Christian the lion bought at Harrods in the 1970's by two young guys then taken to Africa to begin the long process of learning how to be a lion. It was an amazing story that isn't always going to end well for most animals but I'd like to think that conservationists are putting more time and resources into tackling what was once thought almost impossible but it's costly and time consuming. The other issue is the obvious, that they also need safe places to live. In a world where so many wild animals have nowhere to live I wonder how space can be made for those from captive situations.