Best Villain in an African Movie
1. Lion Infanticide: A Dictatorial Ruler
When a new coalition of lions take over a pride, they are likely to kill any cubs under 9 months old for two main reasons. Firstly, they are not related to the cubs so therefore would only be in competition with their own. Secondly, it brings females into oestrus which enables the males to breed and pass on their own genes. Interestingly, infanticide can actually become a conservation threat for lion populations as a whole if it occurs too often. Because of this, it is important to have strong, long reigning males who can protect their cubs and grow their pride. In Hwange National Park, Cecil's pride is a good example of this but what happened to his cubs after he died? Keep an eye out for part two of Cecil's story to find out.
2. The Sly Cuckoo: A Brood Parasite
The devious Cuckoo avoids the cost of raising its own young by laying an egg in the nest of an unsuspecting and unwilling host. The cuckoo uses its cunning nature to trick the host into believing they are raising their own chick. For example, some brood parasites mimic the egg colour, egg shape and feeding calls of their foster parents. The greedy cuckoo can even change the frequency of its call to mimic a whole brood of begging chicks, making it's host work harder for more food. This deceit is so effective, the poor parents seem blind to the fact that their chick seems a little out of the ordinary. This incredible act of deception is seen and heard over breakfast at our very own Somalisa Camp between the Arrow-Marked Babbler and the Levaillant's Cuckoo.
3. The Spider Hunting Wasp: A Trained Killer
If you thought the common wasp was bad, think again. The Spider Hunting Wasp doesn't just kill its prey. Instead, the wasp uses powerful venom to paralyse the unfortunate spider. The immobile spider is kept alive but dragged to a pre-prepared burrow where it is buried alive. As if thats not bad enough, the wasp also lays an egg on the spiders abdomen so that upon hatching 10 days later, the larvae has a fresh snack as it feasts on the paralysed spider. Our famous Walking Safaris allows us to focus on the smaller interactions which provides the perfect platform to witness incredible behaviours just like this.
And the winner for the Best Villain in an African Movie is...