Scavenging Meat From The Mouth Of A Lion

Grace Higgins | January 8th, 2020

An ancient tribe in Kenya still practices a regular tradition of stealing meat from a fresh lion kill. This is a way of scavenging that has existed for centuries in their tribe and culture. In modern times, this way of finding food is becoming less prominent due to the advances in pollution and urbanization but some tribes do still scavenge food in this crazy way.

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Lions are known to kill people if they feel threatened, so taking meat from their kill seems like an extremely bad idea. But the strategy does not sound so bad if you think about early humans and how they would have needed food to survive. It is a practice known as kleptoparasitism, the art of stealing prey from another and does still happen in Africa today.

There have been reports by biologists witnessing this practice in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda – so it seems it was not such an uncommon way to scavenge food. For the people of Mbororo in North Camaron, it is a part of their culture and happens regularly. Some villages are known to allow lions to live around their area freely for the sole purpose of harvesting meat from their kills.

Conservationists say this type of scavenging has a negative impact on lion populations, however, the Mbororo are proud of their way of finding food. Biologists say that due to the amount of energy a lion spends to take down prey if the prey is then stolen from them, it can cause their already dwindling numbers to continue to fall.

The scavenging tactic plays on the lions being wary enough of humans to be scared away, of course, it is a bluff. Generally, a pride of lions is at least 15 strong, which means they could easily kill humans if they decided to attack. In a video by BBC Africa, we watch three Mbororo tribe members walk up casually to a fresh kill, without hesitation to ensure the lion’s runoff. It is not an easy strategy though and can take weeks to pay off, because, lions hunt more actively at night – but at night it is much too dangerous to walk upon a fresh kill.

The Mbororo sometimes spend weeks following a pride to find a fresh kill that happens during day time, and that is when they strike. Not everyone will agree with their methods, but for many tribes in Africa, it is simply a way of life.

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