Lion Cub Leads Human to His Mother’s Dead Body

A rare and heartwrenching story has come out of India. A young lion cub caught the attention of one of the forest guards at Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary and then led him to the recently deceased corpse of his mother.

Forest Guard Rana Mori told BBC, “On Saturday afternoon, I was patrolling the Tulsi-Shyam range of the sanctuary when I saw a cub hiding in the bushes.”  Mori was concerned because young lion cubs are rarely seen without their mother.

“As I got close to the cub, it started moving away and kept looking back to check if I was following him. After 30-odd metres, I spotted the carcass. I intimated my superiors and the carcass was sent for postmortem,” according to The Times of India. The cub refused to leave his mother’s side until authorities came to remove the carcass.

The lioness was an 11-year-old loner among the 400 plus lions who inhabit the sanctuary. She hunted alone and lived alone with her 15-month-old cub. Her name was Rupa, which means “beautiful one.”

It is surmised that Rupa was killed in a run-in with a herd of water buffalo. She had sustained broken ribs. A necropsy disclosed her cause of death to be intestinal hemorrhage. Her death is also rare in that most lions die of natural causes or fights among themselves.

Cattle grazing at Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary commonly increases during the monsoon season. “Usually lions die of infighting and natural causes. It is very rare to see the predator being killed by a herd of resilient herbivorous animals,” said HS Singh, a lion expert and member of India’s National Board of Wildlife.

Asian Lions

Rupa and her cub are Asian Lions. The breed is critically endangered with only about a dozen remaining in the wild.  They are carefully monitored at sanctuaries like Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Once roaming from the Middle East to India, Asian lions now live primarily at Gir. About 200 live in zoos throughout the globe.

The lifespan in the wild is 16 to 18 years.  They grow to between 300 to 500 pounds. Females are the primary hunter in these lion prides, with the male protecting the territory from intruders. The size of an average pride is about 15 lions consisting of perhaps three males, a dozen females and their cubs. As the male cubs mature they will leave the group to join or establish their own pride.

Perhaps if Rupa had joined a pride she would be alive today.

What Becomes of the Little Cub?

Lion cubs are totally dependent on their mother until they reach age two-and-a-half to three years old. For the time being, the cub is being closely monitored by forest officials.  It is expected another lioness will adopt him or he may discover another group of lions that will take in the little orphan.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

320 comments

Julie Neves
Julie Neves4 months ago

Smart cub. It's sad but I wish this little fur cutie the best

Pablo B.
Pablo B.5 months ago

:(

Marilyn D.

Very sad. I hope the cub gets adopted by another lioness or they help it if it does not.

Anne M.
Anne M.8 months ago

Heartbreaking.

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H.8 months ago

|Smart cub! Yes, he needs human help! How sad this is, especially considering the rarity of the Asiatic Lion.

And, btw, Megan, although a lot less important, the word "breed" is not interchangeable with the word "species". I can't remember off hand if the Asiatic Lion is a subspecies of the African Lion, or a separate species, but whichever it is, it's definitely not a breed.

Lawrence D.
Lawrence D.8 months ago

Thanks

Lawrence D.
Lawrence D.8 months ago

Thanks

Steve D.
Steve D.8 months ago

Hopefully the cub will survive and breed another generation to help the species survive

Mikaela Witwicky
Mikaela Witwicky9 months ago

Hopefully this cub is okay! This is an example of a cub who should be fostered by people, and then sent to a GOOD zoo with a breeding program. Not to a nightmare like the copenhagen zoo, which needs to be shut down ASAP!!! He was seeking out humans for a reason! Smart cub!!

Mikaela Witwicky
Mikaela Witwicky9 months ago

Hopefully this cub is okay! This is an example of a cub who should be fostered by people, and then sent to a GOOD zoo with a breeding program. Not to a nightmare like the copenhagen zoo, which needs to be shut down ASAP!!! He was seeking out humans for a reason! Smart cub!!