Saturday, February 13, 2010

Supplemental Feeding: For Lions (A Valentine's Day Fleshy Treat)

Supplemental feeding, the practice of feeding species during winter or drought is not uncommon in the USA. Hay bales for elk for example. But when it comes to aiding toothy predators--the squimish squirm: not so in East Africa. Exreme drought has hit Kenya and parts of Tanzania, something I witnessed first hand in Octobor.  Lions of Kenya's Amboseli National Park are now in trouble. The drought decimated their diet (that included to a large part zebras) and the lions began the dangerous trend of looking at cattle, goats.... and people as an alernative food source.  With tourism and lion viewing a major source of income, Kenyan wildlife officials came up with a dramatic solution: the great zebra (and wildebeest) round up. Rangers in fatigues - with the assitance of  thumping blades of low flying helicopters - are herding zebras in an area of  abundence into trucks. Close to 4,000 zebras are participating in this forced migration and are then released at Amboseli to breed---- and become dinner. The lions are grateful, toursim continues and conflict with farmers that struggle for their survival  and way of life has been averted. Messing with nature's way? No more than you and I feeding the birds. (I photographed these zebras - who are not program particpants-  in the shadow of Kilimanjaro.)


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