Over the past weekend I received surprising, but very good news. Researchers in Mazunga, Zim, from a place called Bubye Valley Conservancy, which is about 90 km's from Mashatu, reportedly collared an old male lion with one eye recently!! It didn't take long for word to reach me out here in the far west, and after a few quick emails I could easily confirm that Matswane is alive and well. Apparently the old chap linked up with 2 younger males (2-3 years old). Interesting behavior considering he's always been a loner since his brother was killed back in 2008. The conservancy apparently has a high lion density but according to management the population needs 'new' genetic material. Due to the fences this has not been achieved. That could also indicate why our old friend has linked up with other potential 'outcasts' as to form a formidable coalition with a fighting chance of becoming resident.
This is the first confirmed long distance dispersal event ever recorded in our area. I know 80km+ isn't that far and wild dogs put this statistic to shame, but considering how these big cats (especially big trophy-quality males) do somehow "find" those corridors is really amazing. It's my mission to identify these existing corridors between lion populations in order to better conserve the species.
So, you might have thought you'll never see old Matswane again, but the old man is not done with his research career just yet - perhaps I need to look at expanding my study area...