SuPer Qt, the Super Cute Lion

#### Today’s guest post is from Daniel Rosengren, one of the full-time field researchers on the Serengeti Lion Project. ####

The prettiest lion born in our study area lately got the code name “SPQ”. “SP” because she was born in the Spurs pride and “Q” because that’s the order she was born, starting from A. Fittingly, her more personal name thus became SuPer Qt (Super Cute). One might think that lions all look alike. But SuPer Qt definitely stands out with her striking looks.

The other day I found the still young SuPer Qt together with her mother and another adult female. They were resting in the tall grass, at least the old females were. SuPer Qt sat up scanning the plains around her for anything to eat. Suddenly lightning struck really near. Close enough not to give a thundering sound but a very loud bang. SuPer Qt jumped while the adults didn’t even react.

After the rain passed SuPer Qt spotted two warthogs in the distance and started stalking. She’s young but not too young to participate in hunts. The other females lifted their heads, saw the pigs and followed suit. I drove around in a big semi-circle to get closer without disturbing. The lions were lucky, the hogs walked straight towards them. Then their luck vanished, just like the warthogs down a burrow. At first, the lions seemed confused and looked around widely as they slowly pushed forward. I don’t know what gave the hiding place away but once the lions came within about 15 meters of the burrow they instantly knew the hogs were there.

All lions took turns digging. The two older and more experienced lions dug with more force and determination. SuPer Qt seemed to dig more randomly. Her inexperience showed in more comical ways too. Twice she managed to place herself in a position behind a digging lion, getting her face full of dirt. Another time she circled the burrow and instead of walking around the oldest female she decided to walk under it. Something got SuPer Qt’s attention down the hole and she stood up while still under the old female who got her hind legs air borne. The old female was too busy looking down the burrow to seem to notice. They stood like this for a good while until the old female ungracefully, one leg at the time, managed to get her hind feet on the ground again.

spq2

SuperQT getting a face full of dirt

spq1

Wrong place, wrong time.

After a long time of digging, the lions finally gave up. They lay down about 20 meters from the hole and rested. Half an hour or so later, the warthogs emerged. They were watched by the lions as they walked away but never had to run for it. The warthogs lived to see another day and must have had a very thrilling time.

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About ali swanson

I'm an ecologist studying how large carnivores coexist. I spend way too much of my time trying to stop hyenas and elephants from munching my camera traps!

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