A classical response
August 4 2012

On the morning of the 1st of August our researcher found the pride, except Nala, resting by waterhole one, clearly not having the energy to move after their zebra feast the day before. Clearly settled for the rest of the day, the team knew exactly where to find them when returning for the afternoon research session.

Recently, as a means to understand the territorial behaviour of the Ngamo pride, playbacks of other (unknown) lion and hyena have been sounded to see how the pride reacts. You can remind yourself of their responses to those playbacks here:

Lion - http://lionalert.org/news-article/view/id/30

Hyena - http://lionalert.org/news-article/view/id/86

So far their behaviour has been on par with what is expected, but as a control method to ensure that they are not just reacting to any noise that is not usually heard, the research team decided to play a piece of classical music to them.

Nala

Nala

Within moments of the music playing Nala, who had by now joined the rest of the pride, lifted her head and stared in the direction of the music. The other females, Milo and the cubs were also vigilant.

Nala began to rise and slowly sauntered closer to the source of the sound. Kwali followed, then AT1, the cubs, Ashanti, Phyre, Milo, Narnia and finally Kenge.

ngamo

After moving approximately 35 metres from their original resting place towards the sound the pride seemed to quickly lose interest and once again lay down and relaxed.

Although the music did evoke a reaction from the pride, it seemed that the lions were more mildly curious about the strange noise, rather than displaying a territorial response. On this occasion the lions moved at a slow pace, no roaring was heard and settled down much quicker than on occasions when lion or hyena playbacks have been used. This experiment seems to indicate that the pride understand the difference between potential competitors and just different  noises that they have never heard before.  This is only a pilot study and we intend to test the pride's reactions more thoroughly over the coming months.

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