Saying Goodbye to Cabral
Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 8:02AM
Michael Schwartz


We regret to inform everyone of the unfortunate death of Cabral. We suspect he was killed by a cattle owner from Nyoktonzi and the Nyamugasani River area.

This is one of the worst areas of the park for carnivores. Many have been poisoned here over the last several years – including lioness Fiona and her two cubs, male lion Nubi, and lioness Aziya and her entire pride. Cattle routinely cross the Nyamugasani River and enter the park to graze illegally. This is where they come into contact with lions, who often prey on the cattle. Over time, some of the lions learn to follow the cattle back into the community land and continue attacking them there.

We know Cabral was attacking cattle both on park land and on the community side. While we don’t currently have the funding to establish a formal community program in Nyoktonzi, we had been meeting more frequently with the livestock owners after several positive meetings with community leaders late last year.

We became increasingly worried about Cabral after repeatedly getting his radio collar’s signal from the community side of the river without a change in location. After a few days with no change, we crossed the swollen river on foot and went into a steep ravine where the signal was coming from.

We eventually tracked the radio signal to a spot along the river. Our senior research assistant James dug into the sand on the riverbank until he reached the collar (see photo). We never discovered Cabral’s remains, but his radio collar was neatly cut - clearly by a person – and deliberately buried in the sand.

Cabral was quite a character. We knew him from when he was a cub and formally monitored him for ~3.5 years. Cabral was ~6 years old at the time of his death and ranged on his own throughout northwest Queen Elizabeth. He would occasionally meet up with a female, and we observed him mating with lioness Juma last year.

If any of you have stayed on the Mweya peninsula, you likely heard his loud vocalizations at night and may have even caught site of him in the evenings. During the day, he could be shy. And when the coalition of Papa, Rudi and Omukama came to his side of the park, he would hide and be completely silent in order to avoid confrontation.

We learned a lot about the life of solo, nomadic male lions from monitoring Cabral. We miss him!

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