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    Thu, Jun 3, 2010


    ‘Survival of the fittest’ is the motto that the world has been functioning on for a while now. The species that can outdo the other becomes the dominant one. This rule, however, has been seen more clearly in the case of the animal kingdom.

    The lion is an animal that is on the top of nature’s food pyramid. It preys upon other carnivores and herbivores, but is rarely preyed on by anyone else (well, except humans). This is a well established fact over the years, and there had never been any reason to believe otherwise.

    Well, now there is.

    Who is Kamunyak?

    Kamunyak, as she was nicknamed, is a lioness in the Samburu Game Reserve of Central Kenya, East Africa; who adopted a young Oryx calf and shocked the world. The name Kamunyak means ‘The Blessed One’. She was nicknamed by the locals after her first miraculous adoption.

    The Inside Story

    The Oryx is a type of antelope that is generally preyed upon by lions. Hence, the news of her adoption was treated with a lot of skepticism across the world. Experts on wildlife behavior were also baffled by her affection towards the calf.

    Pictures of Kamunyak taking a stroll with her newly adopted Oryx calf-cub started making rounds of the World Wide Web.

    Funnily, however, there were instances when she would let the biological mother to nurse the calf, and would then chase her away once she was done.

    However, her joys were short-lived, when a hungry male lion made a meal out of the young calf. This happened when she had left the cub unprotected, while she slept out of exhaustion.

    What happened next?

    Kamunyak adopted her first Oryx calf in the month of January in 2002. Following the death of the first calf, she went on to adopt five more calves. Her adoption history is as follows.

    Adoption I

    Dec – Jan 2002

    Lasted 16 days

    Calf got eaten up by a male lion

    Adoption II

    Feb 2002

    Lasted 2 – 3 days

    Calf was rescued by the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS)

    Adoption III

    Apr 2002

    Lasted 2 days

    Calf was rescued by its biological mother; and this incident left the lioness injured.

    Adoption IV

    May 2002

    Lasted a mere 24 hours

    Calf was abandoned by Kamunyak; and was rescued by its biological mother at a later stage.

    Adoption V

    Sep 2002

    Lasted 2 days

    Calf starved to death, and when dead was eaten up the lioness (lionesses east their young ones when they die)

    Adoption VI

    Jan 2003

    Lasted 24 hours

    Calf escaped and returned to its mother; there were reports of a battle between Kamunyak and the mother Oryx.

    Nature v/s Nurture

    Kamunyak’s story has brought to the forefront a debate that has gone on for ages – the one of Nature v/s Nurture. The heart of the lioness was softened, as many say, by the fact that she was unable to conceive children of her own, but her maternal instinct remained within her strongly.

    Wildlife expert Kapeen was quoted saying “Animals have a tendency to care for the young”.

    This story definitely sent shock wavers around the world; and though there may not be any viable information available on Kamunyak and her whereabouts today, the story will continue to be spoken about due to its uniqueness.

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