Letaba The Fallen Lion
Letaba is one of the male lions at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre who lost his life on Friday 13th September 2019 after an accident that left him agitated and a threat to human life leading to a painful decision by UWEC to take Letaba out of action.
Today we choose to celebrate Letaba as we shine a light on all the lions in Uganda. Uganda is blessed to be home to over 400 lions in about 5 or more lion populations living in habitats across the different national parks in Uganda. The lions are the second most sought after tourism attractions in Uganda of course after the Mountain Gorillas and can be seen all year round in these National Parks:-
- Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Murchison falls National Park
- Kidepo Valley National Park
- Lake Mburo National Park
- Semiliki Game Reserve
In Lake Mburo and Semiliki it’s rare to actually sight a lion however you will hear their roars the whole time, you are there.
Lions in Uganda tagged “King of the Beasts” are of course African lions, they are fierce strong big deep-chested cats that prey on other animals for food. Their habitats are savannah flat-topped grounds because lions are not necessarily adapted to survive in forested areas. However in Uganda especially in Queen Elizabeth National Park, we have the unique and famous “Ishasha” tree climbing lions that live in trees. They still have all the other characteristics of the African lion but climb and stay in trees during the day to hide from the sunshine.
Male lions have a mane as their distinctive feature and their big nature makes them the leaders of the pride which are normally made up of females and their cubs. Lions are territorial and can stay in a territory for a lifetime for as long as they are not threatened and there is enough food for them.
Like other cats, the lions are active at night and that’s when they hunt for their food. If on a night safari, you are most likely to bump into a pride enjoying its prey or a group of lionesses ceasing their prey.
In moments when a lion feels threatened or it senses danger, it will charge up in agitation and rage becoming dangerous to the humans around it. In this state, a lion can inflict on human fatal injuries or even can kill the human on the spot.
This is what happened in the case of Letaba on Friday 13th September 2019 in Kalenga Village, Mubende District. UWEC officials say the incident happened on the team’s way back from Fortportal where Letaba was part of the Conservation Education Program activities that took place in the week-long Empango celebrations in the Tooro Kingdom in Fort Portal Town.
On the way back the transport truck that was carrying all the animals including Letaba who veered off the road leading to a collision of animal crates and Letaba’s crate opening, this is when Letaba escaped going into a nearby community.
UWA rangers, Uganda Police and community leaders joined forces for Letaba’s search however by the time Letaba was found he had already caused harm to 3 pigs and 1 cow. He was highly charged, agitated and dangerous posing a serious danger to human life in the community. After trials by the UWEC Veterinary doctor to dart the animal had failed, the team made a painful decision to put Letaba out of action.
Letaba died at 9:00 am and his carcass was then transported back to UWEC in Entebbe, where a post-mortem will be done and the animal stuffed for further conservation education studies.
It’s a sad situation for UWEC and the entire tourism sector but all hope is not lost. Letaba is survived by 3 lionesses and 4 cubs of which one of his male cubs Africa now takes up the role of head lion in the pride. Letaba also has relatives all over Uganda, which can be seen all year round in the different national parks across the country.
Letaba came to Uganda in 2015 from South Africa to replace the popular Lion Kibonge and his going to be dearly missed.
So celebrate Letaba with us, by booking a trip to come see Letaba’s brothers, sisters, cousins etc in the different parks. Let us show Letaba’s relatives that we treasured him that we share this loss with them and we deeply miss him.