Among the Elephants Blog

Kamunyak, the miracle lioness
February 27, 2003
by David Daballen, Senior Research Assistant

Samburu National Reserve has recently become a famous park, across Africa and the whole world today. At the beginning of last year the eighth wonder of world happened here in Kenya. In Samburu a Lioness (now known as Kamunyak) adopted a baby Oryx.

This made many people question whether this has ever been seen anywhere before; the scientist and religion people all sat down but no answer was obtained. The religion said "It's the end of the age"; but before "the end of the age" came, another adoption happened, and then another, until they also gave up on the faith; while scientists were left in one big confusion not knowing what is happening in this female's mind.

The last two adoptions were of Impala babies which the lioness ate after a day. I Interviewed a Samburu elder because they are usually knowledgeable about wild animals, and his answer was that he thinks this lioness was once adopted in a village and when she was released to the wild probably the first animal she found was an Oryx. He also thinks that may be the lioness is barren and is looking for a baby. Normally we have about four groups of prides of lions in this Reserve and nobody has ever witnessed Kamunyak associating with any of the groups.

She usually stays by herself, but the county council rangers who are in observation hill in the park say that recently she has been sported in the presence of four other lionesses which she joins on a daily basis. On my normal elephant monitoring work I came cross a kill, which had just happened. Two lionesses were still struggling with a giraffe who was not yet dead. The giraffe struggled a bit but after a short while succumbed. At this time, Kamunyak, who had been pitched at a near-by bush came to the scene but was chased away by the two dominant females who had done the killing.

After some time she sneaked to the carcass again, but you could tell from their mean faces that they didn't like her but tolerated her. After a few minutes she left. This is a clear indication that she is indeed hunting although the other females do not accept her. Up to now film crews and other parties, who are interested still come to Samburu to do interviews. And to this moment nobody has clear answer what do this extra ordinary event which happen in Samburu means.