The African Serengeti saw an unexpected and a humbling twist of events where one lone leopard cub was seen suckling a wild lioness. She is a five-year-old lioness now named as “Noisekick” for her kindness to the three-week-old cub.
Such surprising behaviour has mystified wildlife conservationists around the world because never has there been a case of inter-species adoption in wild cats like this one.
The lioness had recently had a litter of her own and is naturally primed to nurse newborns. The leopard cub is exactly the same age as her litter. The lioness is awash with maternal hormones and that seems to be the only reason for her accepting the lost and vulnerable leopard cub.
Dr Luke Hunter, president of Panthera, observed that the lioness in her normal state would never have allowed the leopard cub to nurse her and it appears that she may be vulnerable, having lost her own cubs. In a normal situation, the lioness would’ve killed the baby leopard because an adult leopard will compete for food with the other carnivores in the area.
This case is particularly interesting because the lioness is primed to know the difference between species and can recognise one from the roar and looks.
These rare photos were the work of a guest living in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Notice the lioness is wearing a GPS collar. The organization Panthera supports this area to help farmers and their conflicts with wildlife.