May the Queen’s Legacy Live On

QUEEN, one of Namibia’s famed desert lions, and dubbed the founding lioness of a new era of Skeleton Coast lions by Flip Stander, died last weekend. She was 16.

Queen’s life was closely followed by Stander of Desert Lion Conservation, making her one of his most valuable subjects, having contributed greatly to the cause of desert lion conservation in Namibia.

Stander placed a collartag on Queen, identifying her as Xpl-10.

Fierce, protective and g, Queen was filmed twice by Stander taking down a fully-grown giraffe in an attempt to provide food for her pride.

She never shied away from taking on more dangerous aersaries, namely male lions, a threat to young cubs in her pride, and it was this, which in the end might have been her downfall. Puncture wounds to her body from another lion caused damage and infection and led to her death.

In the days leading to her death, “a raging sandstorm” blew through the Skeleton Coast and lasted more than two days, according to the lion trust research team. While the most of the Floodplain pride were forced to escape the storm, and move westwards, Queen’s daughter, Xpl-69 “stayed behind and remained close to Xpl-10 until she died”.

The researchers transported her back to the fold of her pride, after finding her close to Purros, too weak to re-join her pride.

Followers of the well-known website, www.desertlion.info were shocked and sad at photographs depicting her emaciated body, and debates on social media sites erupted over whether human interference would be justified in this case, to ease her pain and suffering, or to even medically intervene and help save her life.

Stander emphasised that apart from interfering by darting her to translocate her out of harm’s way, their policy is “not to interfere in the ‘natural’ developments surrounding the lion population. It is only with human-related events that exceptions are made”.

The lion researchers, among them her old friend Stander, were able to keep watch over her last days, and so, on Saturday last weekend, the world was informed that ‘The Queen is dead’.

On his website, Stander wrote that the preliminary findings from an autopsy performed in the field revealed that Xpl-10’s death was most likely due to an infection from a puncture wound, probably caused by the canine tooth of another lion. That wound most probably also caused damage to her spinal column.

In addition, Stander found that her kidneys were enlarged and may not have functioned properly. His examination found that her right kidney was solid and much larger than the left one.

He wrote that Xpl-10’s carcass will be processed and her skeleton reconstructed and placed in the Hoanib Camp Research Centre or in the Moumlwe Bay Museum, her legacy living on even after her passing.

Source : The Namibian