Lions, cubs and death

I’m new to the SDMB so this may not be in the correct forum but if not no doubt the mods will move it.

Watching a wildlife programme on TV and the Alpha male of a pride of lions killed the cubs that had be sired by his predecessor.

Now I understand why this is done but surely the guys photographing the scene could have done something to prevent this and maybe take the cubs into a wild life reserve/animal home until such time as they were old enough to be released back into the wild.

I figure the camera men are pretty far away with a pretty good zoom lens. I don’t think they wanna chance getting that close. If not that, maybe they just want to let nature takes it course.

I would imagine that trying to stop a lion doing what it wants to do, short of killing it, is actually quite difficult. Sad though it is for the lion cubs, it’s the way nature works. There are codes of ethics for wildlife photographers which specifically prohibit interfering with the animals.

And even more to the point, hand-raising the babies of large predators and then releasing them into the wild is not as easy as it might seem. Young lions stay with their mothers for a considerable period of time, where they learn to hunt and survive. It’s not an easy thing for humans to take on that role, and it requires enormous committments of time as well as dedication, a safe and approriate environment and humans skilled and able to take on the task. And even then there is no guarantee of success.

If you look up the work of Joy and George Adamson, Gareth Patterson or Arjan Singh, all of whom work/ed with big cats (Singh in India with tigers, the others in Africa with lions), you’ll read about how very difficult, heartbreaking and dangerous such work can be.

As an aside, a friend of mine stayed with George Adamson at his camp at Kora, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so jealous of someone else’s experience … it sounded like such an extraordinary adventure.

What blackhobya said. That is the way of the natural world. For we humans to interfere in such matters would be wrong, no matter how good it makes us feel inside to save little lion cubs.

So in effect what is being said is that to interfere would be like disobeying the prime directive and even if the lions could be tranquilized and the cubs removed to safer surrounds we would still be going against mother nature.

Bit of a bummer but I guess that’s how it is.

You’ve really never encountered this notion?

I see where you’re comming from, but I don’t see how it could be wrong if we did do such a thing. We are, after all, a part of nature too.

If they have any sense, they’re not within darting range. Darting is a very short range thing. Darting is also dangerous to the animals being tranquilized and should not be done by, say, your average photographer. I hope you’re not suggesting darting a whole pride of lions to remove a few cubs. And you would have to dart all of them, including older cubs and pregnant females. That’s different doses for different animals, requiring multiple guns and shooters. Not something most film crews have.

Darted animals have to be monitored carefully and protected while they are helpless. Not to mention the fact that, dispite what you may have seen on television, the tranquilizer takes effect slowly. The cubs being attacked would most likely be dead before the male was down, and would probably be dead too quickly for you to drive in close enough to shoot it.

And assuming you can successfully steal the cubs (they won’t cooperate and they have claws), you’d better be way gone when the family comes around. You’ll be leaving behind a pride that now associates the presense of humans with a very frightening attack. You would not be going back to finish your shoot. You would have to leave the family while they were asleep enough to be vulnerable to vultures and hyenas. And anyone else who came near that pride would be in added danger.

So in addition to being not possible, it would be very much not worth the risk.

Disturbing these sorts of events in a fit of motion really isn’t a good idea. You really need to think ahead just a little bit and decide what happens AFTER the “rescue”, what you hope to achieve, whether you have the resources to achieve it and what the consequences will be if you succeed. :
Predation by lions is a major control on lion populations so simply preventing this would lead to an unsustainable increase in lion numbers. At the very least result in numerous lions starving to death and at the very worst it could lead to the extinction of numerous prey species and an irreversible alteration of the entire landscape. . Why is that preferable to a relatively quick death for the cubs?
Raising cubs for return to the wild is not cheap. To train lion cubs to hunt requires about several hours a day, so you are basically looking at a cost $40, 000 if you want to ever release these cubs back into the wild. Does the photographer have that sort of money available?

In this case it seems like nobody has any idea what they hope to achieve, what resources will be required to achieve it and what the consequences will be

This is why making decisions based purely on emotion is a bad thing.

This is the bottom line for why we don’t save the cubs – there’s nothing good to be done with them later. Lions require large domains if both they and their prey are to exist long-term. All the suitable lion domains are already occupied, and we aren’t creating new land for them to take over. The reverse, actually, in lot of cases as expanding human populations move onto formerly wild land. Some years back there were floods in areas of Africa and people tried to rescuce wild animals in danger of drowning – and they ran into the same problem with where to move them to.

You can’t just give them to zoos, either. Zoo managers have figured out how to successfully breed lions in captivity, and now the emphasis is on birth control to avoid being overwhelmed with lions.

What does that leave? Putting the cubs in private zoos, which almost always means poorer care and living conditions?

Sell them to people who want to set up ‘lion hunts’ for hefty fees?

Raise them and kill them for pelts?
All options are bad. Best leave it in Mother Nature’s hands.

Bit of an aside, but my father when he was about 8 decided to steal a lion cub (he was living in Kenya at the time). He made it into the national park and found a pride before he and his little co-conspirators were snatched up by a Landrover full of rangers. Turns out the rangers had spotted my father’s group, and then spotted the lionesses stalking them.

Totally irrelevant to the discussion, but one of my father’s many African adventure stories that always makes me smile.

The lionesses had decided to snatch a human cub.

Every time I read something like this I’m reminded of an anecdote I read somewhere years ago.

Tourists were watching sea turtles hatch out on a beach. The first few babies to venture out of the nest were promptly nabbed by seabirds waiting nearby. Of course this horrified the tourists, who decided to “help”. They dug up the nest and carried the rest of the turtles to the sea, where they immediatly became dinner for the birds and everything else. Wiped out the whole lot.

What the tourists didn’t realize is that the first ones out were, in essence, reconnasence. If they didn’t make it to the water, the rest would stay in the nest until it was safer to go. By short circuiting the process, the tourests doomed the rest of them too.

It’s sad, and hard to accept, but sometimes you’ve just got to let nature take it’s course.

Yes, it’s very important not to cross the lion.


'cos if you do you stand a good chance of being “phased out”