When the lion roars and you hear it for the first time it is indeed quite something that one will never forget. Mopane the dominant male and his Somadada Pride whose territory extended into the Camp Silwane Conservancy, would have been the very roar that you would have heard. Tragically, Mopane’s roars as he patrolled his territory will no longer be heard. Mopane who looked after his Somadada Pride of 2 lionesses and 6 sub adults was indeed shot by a bow hunter. Mopane was a well known dark maned lion, well photographed and well known by tourists. In his younger years he had a cheeky attitude and would at times chase safari vehicles. Indeed at the Hwange National Park Main Camp Office Reception, there was a sign warning visitors to be aware of Mopane. As Mopane grew older, he seemed to have mellowed and his reputation for chasing vehicles ebbed away and he seemed to trust people more. Research sources say that Mopane was the dominant male over two prides. The Somadada Pride as mentioned, and the other pride being the offshoot of the Guvalala Pride, which also has two Lionesses and 2 cubs around 6 months old. Interestingly and very unlike usual dominant male lion behaviour, Mopane appears to have adopted these cubs. Researchers have been interested to see how these dynamics developed and were looking to monitor this over time. Sadly, this unique opportunity has been cut short.
According to reliable sources, on the 4thAugust Mopane was lured out of the National Park into the hunting area where an American through a South African based hunting operator, shot him with a bow. Mopane did not die immediately sources say, but died a slow and agonising death from the hunters arrow. He died the following day. Mopane had a coalition partner by the name of Seduli. Seduli was hunted down in a like manner incidentally on World Lion Day in 2017. Mopane’s death was almost to the day of the anniversary of Seduli’s death. No longer will Mopane’s roars’ be heard at Camp Silwane. Staff especially feel a sense of mourning, missing that familiar figure proudly patrolling and the regular roar at night, truly the king of Silwane. No longer will this magnificent lion be photographed by the tourists who visit. Mopane’s killing could result in the death of all his cubs and sub adults by a new male in the area. His death as protector of his two prides could put the females in danger researchers say. Or possibly, the lionesses in an effort to protect their cubs may move into the surrounding habituated communal areas where there could be human, livestock and Lion conflict with tragic consequences.
Although the hunt was legal in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe, many questions arise to the moral compass of hunting lions and other wildlife such as elephant, leopards, jackals and hyenas.
In the words of Nelson Mandela: "If we do not do something to prevent it, Africa’s animals, and the places in which they live, will be lost to our world, and her children, forever."
Mopane. We are indeed sad about the events that took your life and left your pride in jeopardy. We will miss you along with Cecil, Bhubezi, Seduli, Xander and all the others. It was a pleasure to have known you and heard your familiar roars. From all at Camp Silwane.
According to reliable sources what we know of the hunt that killed Mopane:
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A week before the anniversary of Mopane’s coalition partner, Seduli’s death, we are hearing disturbing news that Mopane has been shot by a bow hunter. We are verifying the facts. From what we hear, he may be mortally wounded. For Camp Silwane Expeditions and its conservation area, this is indeed devastating news.
We will update this feed once we know all the details and facts.
Like white lions in South Africa, this unusual congenital pigmentation was seen on a tree squirrel in Hwange National Park. It appeared to have a partner and seemed to be doing just fine.
The Somadada Pride appears to have lost a couple of cubs when they were struck by a passing train crossing the border of Hwange Park.