Many visitors to the Zambezi River at Mana Pools have enjoyed wonderful wildlife photographic experiences in the company of an old lioness and her family who frequents the area around Nyamepi Camp and the National Parks lodges. This old lady, now a great-grandmother, still roams the area in the company of her daughters and their offspring.
Some years ago, as part of a research project undertaken in the Park, she was fitted with a radio tracking collar. This made her easily identifiable thereafter, but once the project was concluded she was left with the collar, which, as she got older, could have caused her problems.
Lovers of Mana Pools, concerned about the welfare of the old lioness sought help from The Zambezi Society and the Aware Trust to have the collar removed.
In the last week of October, vets Lisa Marabini and Keith Dudlow from the Aware Trust donated their time and drugs to remove the offending collar and treat a haematoma that had developed on the lioness's neck.
Their fuel costs were covered by Goliath Safaris and Stretch Ferreira, Goliath's MD and professional safari guide, provided essential safety cover and back-up for the vets during the operation, which was successfully completed extremely quickly while one of the younger lionesses looked on at a distance of a few metres! "It was a hair-raising experience, but one of the greatest moments in my 25 years at Mana", said Stretch, who is one of the Zambezi valley's most experienced professional guides.
The action picture above, kindly sent by Goliath Safaris guest, David Fettes, shows the lioness moving as the tranquilliser dart was fired.
When the dart took effect, Keith and Stretch cautiously approached her (below).
The collar was removed and her abcess was treated by Keith and Lisa, assisted by Stretch (below). She was then revived.
Latest reports indicate that "Old Granny" is in good condition and still in the company of her offspring. Visitors look forward to seeing her again (without collar) next safari season.
Post Script - Sadly this grand old lion lady finally passed away in 2012.