Lion kills cubs

Watching a wildlife programme on TV in which a lion killed the 2 cubs sired by another lion.

Why didn’t the people filming this programme shoot tranquiliser darts into killer lion (and also mommy lioness) and take the cubs to some safe place until they were old enough to be released back into the wild.

I realise that doing this is against the laws of nature …survival of the fittest and all that but even so…


Because if they did that they’d lose out on some dynamite footage.

More likely they didn’t anticipate that they’d actually see such behavior. It’s not likely African film crews come pre-equipped with a tranquilizer gun as standard gear you know. :wink:

What makes you feel that the animal kingdom should behave in a way that you approve of?

Maybe they are objecting to seeing young examples of a species that isn’t doing so well as a whole being slain? There wasn’t much the camera crew could have done though.

Clock, just think of all those future baby wildebeests that were saved because two carnivores were destroyed.

Evrn so - what? Before you can get a factual answer to this question, you have to articulate a complete question. WHY do you feel they should have tranquilized the lion and saved the lion cubs?

Why should they stop it? This happens all the time. It’s a matter of routine. If the male, who probably just ousted the cubs’ father, kills them, than their mother will stop nursing. Nursing is a natural contraceptive. This way, he can impregnate her more quickly, and propogate his genes more quickly. Eventually, some other male is going to oust him, or he’ll die of some other causes. His biological clock is ticking. Does it fit human morality? No. Is it a natural and adaptive behavior? You bet. Nature isn’t kind.

It being ‘aginst the laws of nature’ is exactly why they shouldn’t get involved. It isn’t uncommon for lions and other animals to kill the cubs of a female they want to mate with. If a female has cubs she takes care of them and won’t go into estrus for quite some time. If the cubs are dead, it is a quick turn around for her to become sexually receptive again and the male lion can then pass on his genes. It has worked for them for many thousands of years, why should humans get involved?

It’s also my understanding that the problems with lion conservation have nothing to do with making lion babies. Making lion babies is EASY, in the wild or in captivity(which is not true for all vunerable species). The problem has to do with keeping ADULT lions alive in places where avalible habitat is shrinking. It’s isn’t a lack of babies, it’s a lack of slots.

True, but it’s darned difficult to make a baby if you can’t find the slot. ( rimshot )

This isn’t GD, it’s GQ- I’m with Bricker here. If the Op needs to know why film crews do not carry tranquilizer dart guns so that they can interfere with the natural order of things, I will be glad to answer that. I’m a professional cameraman. When placed in a situation where I am not in complete control of the surroundings and circumstances, I know enough to keep my head down and never stop rolling. It’s hardly to be considered exploitative to say that the footage was shot or aired. It is a huge rule. You Do Not Interfere With What Is Happening In Front Of Your Camera. The moral quandries arising from whether or not to stop a crime or human injury are for a separate thread, but in this context, I can tell you that no crew will use a weapon to stop this kind of perfectly natural event. They likely DO carry dart guns to protect themselves. They’re kinda…out there in the wild, yanno? :wink:

They’re called animals for a reason. Snuff films are illegal for a reason. Documentaries showing animals killing young ( or old…or middle-aged ) animals are not illegal, they are routinely shown on television.

I remember seeing in an article in* National Geographic * which tore at my heart. They had a picture of the most adorable baby white seal you would ever want to see-- the kind of cute picture you see in calendars. The article said that this cub had been abandoned because its mother had been killed by a polar bear. It was a real struggle for the photographers to ignore its plight, since they knew it was certain to die on the ice, but they knew they could do nothing-- that they should do nothing.

Compassion is all well and good, but photographers have a duty to record, not interfere with the workings of nature. Nature is cruel, but that’s the way it’s been for millions of years. What photographers see is natural selection in action.

To address the OP: The father of those lion cubs was not as strong as the lion who took over the pack, and thus the cubs of the new head lion will have superior genes to those that he killed. Secondly, killing the cubs brings the females back into breeding status, meaning he can impregnate the females with his cubs sooner. It happens all the time, every day.

This one doesn’t rise to the level of a Great Debate(yet), so let’s put it in IMHO.

samclem GQ moderator

Even so, what? You’ve answered your own question. This type of thing goes on all the time in the wild. The photographers happened to be there to capture this one instance.

Nature’s a bitch, baby, but in order to sustain the survival of the strongest and the smartest, this is what happens. If it upsets you that much, don’t watch it.

Well I guess 'cos they looked so cute…y’know :slight_smile:

I never implied that it should, I asked a simple question is all :rolleyes:

There are species of eagles (and other birds) whose young kill their siblings by slow, torturous pecking or a hefty push out of the aerie until there is only one left to feed.

To our human sense of overdeveloped morality it seems wrong, but that is the way the species has evolved. Why should someone mess with millions of years of development? Tinkering around with nature’s flow and interpreting the acts of animals through the lens of a human’s morality is what got many animals into trouble in the first place; tinkering around with the flow some more isn’t going to fix it.

If the way a species develops turns out not to be optimal, natural selection will weed them out; with or without human interference. The way their species has adapted to procreate and raise their young and gather food… it’s all done for a reason and that reason should not be tampered with.

Since the fact that it is a recorder of event’s responsibility to only record and not interfere has been covered, the only remaining element (as I see it) to the question is the question of “what harm could it have done to the natural order of things to have removed the cubs and put them in a zoo until they could later be released?”

There are several problems with that scenario. When a lioness’ cubs are killed, she immediately stops nursing and becomes able to conceive. Removing them, however, does not (someone correct me if I’m wrong on this point). By doing so, the conquerer and new leader of the pride cannot impregnate the lionesses, and optimal breeding time is lost. If conception is able to take place shortly thereafter, they may be pushing their window of opportunity to raise cubs successfully, and if they cannot that season, then an entire generation of cubs is lost.

Also, lion cubs raised in captivity have a lower than normal success rate once released back into the wild. A lion’s survival depends upon being a part of a pride. Some can and do survive for a time on their own, but many end up dead at the hands (claws) of a pride’s dominant male whose territory they inadvertantly invaded, or starve to death (there’s a reason they hunt as a pack, their prey are generally much faster than they… solitary lions eat more carrion than catch their own food). Releasing unindoctrined cubs into the wild is about as sure a way of getting them killed as anything because they must find unclaimed territory, defend said territory against older, stronger lions, and hunt on their own. Their only real chance is to either take over a pride by challenging and killing the dominant male (and then guess what happens to the cubs), or by being allowed to join a pride, which is more common of female lions than male.

Humans find most mammal babies cute. That’s not the point…the survival of the species is what’s important.

Yes, it’s sad. But to interfere in the development of the species? At the risk of sounding too Star Trek Prime Directive here, we’re not smart enough to comprehend all the consequences. So, hands off.

Another one chiming in to say that lion cubs are routinely killed by adults in the pride. A statistic from some research I did years ago still sticks with me: a cub raised to adulthood is the result of (on average) some 3000 lion copulation. It’s an incredibly inefficient system for raising young. But it does meet the requirement of allowing the pride to control numbers to prevent overhunting - and still allow for rapid expansion of pride size if some environmental changes occur to increase the food supply. Wolves control population by allowing only the dominant pair to breed. Mammals at the top of the food chain, with largish litter sizes, have to control population some how.