The Curious Case Of Seafood Hunting Lions

Posted on March 28th 2019

Zambia Partially Lifts Ban On Safari Hunting

New research suggests that in response to growing scarcity of food resources in an increasingly desert landscape, Namibian lions have taken to hunting seals and seabirds. Namibia has a population of desert lions which can only be found within the Skeleton Coast region. Theses are the only known lions that hunt marine life. They have been seen eating fur seals, cormorants and flamingos. Experts say the discovery suggests that the lions have learned that the key to their survival in unforgiving terrain is adaptability of diet.

Driest place in sub-Saharan Africa

The Skeleton Coast which is part of Namibia’s coastal backbone is sub-Saharan Africa’s driest place and receives less than 5mm of rain per year. The lions that roam this part of the world usually hunt oryx and ostriches. Unfortunately, both species are not many in number in that region. The ocean that neighbours it however is rich in marine life serving as home to almost a million Cape fur seals that breed on the coast as well as multiple species of seabirds.

Have to be resourceful in order to survive

Experts says that in order to survive lions have to be resourceful and this means hunting a wide variety of prey across a range of habitats in their ecosystem. Seals are obvious targets for the lions because they are rich in fat and very slow when on land. This is not the first-time lions have been recorded feeding on marine life in Namibia, though it has not been documented in decades. In 1985 an adult male lion was spotted feeding on a beached whale. Experts say the behaviour ended along with the lions presence in the region.

Lions return to the region

Desert lions effectively became locally extinct by 1990 as a result of retaliatory killings by livestock farmers. However, a pride did make a return to the area just seven years later and their numbers have continued to rise ever since. The region is now home to between 130 to 150 lions. Upon their return to the desert the first-time lions were recorded feeding on marine life was 2006. In 2017 a lioness in poor health was seen hunting cormorants. Others have been observed hunting flamingos. Experts says they think the lions could even hunt shellfish, crabs and sea turtles.

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