Saturday, April 09, 2011

'Teen' lioness mom may have mated for security

'Teen' lioness mom may have mated for security
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

She chose her mate from a pack of vagabonds and got thrown out of her pride. But, she may yet become the queen lioness. The two-and-half-year-old lioness' mating with a lion outside the group in Gir sanctuary at a young age may have been driven by her instinctive selection of the strongest and most dominating male around. Experts say her early pregnancy is rooted in her need for security. Her mate has already made a few attempts to establish his supremacy over her pride and the territory.

Forest officials who have been closely monitoring this young lioness said she was a part of a 10-member pride with two male lions. The males are growing old. Apart from this, four sub-adult cubs of the same age have left the pride in search of their own new home.

Deputy conservator of forest Sandeep Kumar said, "Five young adult lions trying to establish their supremacy in the area are intruding in this territory. Her mate along with his brother had come close to her pride and stayed nearby for about a week."

Sensing that the males in her group were getting weaker and that the young lion and his brother had a fair chance of taking over the pride by vanquishing the reigning 'kings', the lioness chose her mate. She preferred the most powerful of the five contenders and gave birth to three cubs. Of these, one cub was killed in an incident of cannibalism by a male from her existing group.

Kumar said this male and his brother have come to the area from a nearby range in Dudhala. He added that the lioness was staying just 2 to 2.5 km away from the parent pride. Since leaving home, she has come close to the group only once or twice, but that too without her cubs. Officials said that once her male lion establishes supremacy, she will rejoin the pride.

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