African lions make record-breaking swim in crocodile-infested waters

African lions make record-breaking swim in crocodile-infested waters Jacob only has three legs, but it doesn't stop him from joining his brother on a dangerous swim in search of female mates. (Supplied)

Jacob is no ordinary African lion.

The 10-year-old cat and his brother Tibu, have made a record-breaking swim across the predator-infested waters of the Kazinga Channel in Uganda, East Africa, in a likely desperate search for female lions.

Jacob made the 1 kilometre-long swim with only three legs, having lost his fourth in a poaching incident when he was caught in a steel trap.

Alexander Braczkowski, from Griffith University's Centre for Planetary Health and Food Security, led a team that used high-definition heat-detection cameras on drones to film the two male lions crossing the river at night.

"[This] swim across a channel filled with high densities of hippos and crocodiles is a record breaker and is a truly amazing show of resilience in the face of such risk," Dr Braczkowski said.

Dr Braczkowski said Jacob was "Africa's most resilient lion" and he was a "cat with nine lives" given the adversities he had overcome.

Jacob has become famous for surviving a multitude of life-threatening incidents, including being gored by a buffalo, having his family poisoned for the lion body part trade, and escaping after being caught in a poacher's snare.

"The fact that he and his brother Tibu have managed to survive as long as they have in a national park that has experienced significant human pressures and high poaching rates is a feat in itself," Dr Braczkowski said.

Previously reported swims by African lions have ranged in length from 10 to a couple of hundred metres, some of which have ended in fatal crocodile attacks.

'The risky journey to get to the females'

But why did Jacob and Tibu risk the dangerous night swim in the first place?

"It's likely the brothers were looking for females," Dr Braczkowski said.

"Competition for lionesses in the park is fierce and they lost a fight for female affection in the hours leading up to the swim, so it's likely the duo mounted the risky journey to get to the females on the other side of the channel," he said.

He said their behaviour was an example of wildlife species having to make tough decisions to find homes and mates in "a human-dominated world".

This observation highlighted some of Dr Braczkowski's previous findings on skewed sex ratios in lion populations.

He said his scientific research had shown this population of lions had nearly halved in the past five years.

Dr Braczkowski has been running a long-term study of African lions and other predators in Ugandan National Parks.

The swim was documented in a study co-led by Griffith University and Northern Arizona University.

The research has been published in the peer-reviewed Ecology and Evolution journal.

  • https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/african-lions-make-record-breaking-swim-in-crocodile-infested-waters/ar-BB1pKZ7C?ocid=00000000

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