First day off, woohoo!!

The lion researcher who is training me felt sorry for me being so ridiculously tired and exhausted so gave me a day off today - thank god, as I really was beginning to crack.  I had a sleep in, managed to catch up on loads of emails I've not had a chance to reply to, did some research for my PhD, had a chat with my Mum, did some bird watching (got some good pics of kingfishers, hoopoes, cormorants, a fish eagle and grey herons), went for an afternoon horse ride in the bush and then a mule-driven carriage ride at sunset.  Managed to see some good game, like tsessebe (with a tssesbok - a tsessebe crossed with a blesbok), wildebeest, impala, kudu, giraffe, warthogs, waterbuck and lots of vultures.

The current researcher and I went on a cub walk recently to measure the spoor of one of the cubs as we would like to know if you can ID individuals by their pugmarks, or at least tell the age and sex of the lion.  It was fun going out on the walk as one of the cubs decided it wanted to climb a tree, but couldn't get down again and basically fell the whole way.

We're also studying the colour, length and thickness of the mane in male lions too, which will hopefully give an indication of dominance, age and testosterone levels.  Milo, the male in Stage 2 of the release programme, certainly has the most beautiful mane out of all the 90+ lions here and looks like he'd make a great model for a Pantene advert.

The current researcher leaves in 4 days - I really hope I can do the job on my own!  Two of the lionesses are pregnant and due to give birth shortly, and one is possibly pregnant, so I may have a busy time ahead of me trying to ID all the new cubs!  Hopefully as the lionesses have all had previous litters many these cubs shall survive.  We should also be getting a delivery of game within a few weeks, which is great because just a few days ago the lions killed the last zebra.  There is still plenty of impala to eat, but the lions seem to want to take the easier option of the slower zebra rather than the flighty impala.

Right, time for dinner.  Here's hoping my meal will include some protein...!!


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