Sep 4, 2009

Ditch, The Lioness Taking Pride Of Place At Moholoholo Animal Rehab

New animals are brought into the Moholoholo Centre for treatment and attention on a regular basis. Once their wounds have healed or their condition has improved, we are able to release them, but this is not how it always happens. In certain instances the animal will never be able to be released and so Moholoholo becomes their new home. Many of these animals suffered injuries that will require them to receive constant care and attention to ensure their continued health and comfort.
Several years ago a lioness was caught by her left, back leg in a snare on a nearby Game Reserve.

The wire cut through the skin and down to the bone, resulting in a terrible wound.  This lioness, later to be called Ditch, was in need of immediate attention if we were to be able to save her leg! A vet was called and with much thought a plan was devised and put into action to allow us to dart and capture her without causing stress to the rest of her pride. Once she had been captured, Ditch was rushed off to the Animal Rehabilitation Centre for treatment. Ditch responded well and after 6 weeks her wound had healed enough for us to consider returning her back to her pride.
Ditch was placed in a holding cage in the area where her pride roams and meat was put out nearby to entice the pride to come closer. This would help Ditch to adjust back to her surroundings and would expose Ditch to her pride, giving them a chance to become used to her presence once more. Unfortunately life is not all about smooth sailing and the territorial male did not take kindly to having Ditch taking her meal so close to where he was eating and he lunged out in attack. The holding cage spared her life but she lost a toe from her front paw. Ditch was then brought back to the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre where her paw was attended to. It was a clean wound and once again she healed quickly.

We were not going to give up on assisting Ditch to return her back to her natural way of life and once again a plan was devised to try and reintroduce Ditch to her pride. This time the territorial male was darted and temporarily removed from the scene and Ditch was again placed in a holding cage within her pride’s territory. Part of the cage was slightly raised and a full carcass was strategically placed, half within the holding cage and half outside of the cage. This was done to encourage the lionesses to come and eat and allow Ditch to eat alongside them as if she were part of the pride. The only barrier would be the netting of the cage and we hoped that this would encourage them to re-accept Ditch. Once again the other members of her pride were not welcoming and immediately attacked her. Colin, the Ranger had to chase the pride away using the vehicle. We then had to face the facts that Ditch had been away from her pride for too long and she would not be accepted back. So with heavy hearts we brought Ditch back to the Rehab Centre.

At this time we had another “pride-less” male lion, Big Boy, who was in need of company, and who better to put him with than Ditch?  Big-Boy had come to us by order of the magistrate, he was brought to us along with his two sisters. Within a short period of being here one of his sisters had to be put down due to malnourishment and not long after his second sister, who was suffering from deformities due to malnourishment, was put down as well, leaving Big-Boy without a family.  Ditch was accepted by Big-Boy and to this day you can see them relaxing together in the shade perfectly content in each others company.

The vet is called out on intervals as Ditch’s injured leg had developed abscesses. If Ditch had been accepted back into her pride she would never have coped with all the walking due to her injured foot and would have eventually died of starvation. All worked out well at the end for Ditch and as you can see from the latest photographs the only legacy from her terrible ordeal is a banded scar around her back, left leg and a unique paw-print, below that marks these grounds as her home.

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