This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) This article includes a list of general references, but it remains largely unverified because it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (September 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) This article may need to be rewritten to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. You can help. The talk page may contain suggestions. (June 2020) This article may present fringe theories, without giving appropriate weight to the mainstream view, and explaining the responses to the fringe theories. Please help improve it or discuss the issue on the talk page. (June 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

The marozi or "spotted lion" is variously claimed by zoologists to be a distinct race of the lion adapted for a montane rather than savanna-dwelling existence, a rare natural hybrid of a leopard and lion, or an adult lion that retained its childhood spots. It is believed to have been smaller than a lion, but slightly larger in size than a leopard and lacking any distinguishable mane. It has been reported in the wild and the skin of a specimen exists, but it has yet to be confirmed as either a separate species or subspecies.

Discovery

Pelt of a marozi killed by Michael Trent in 1931
Pelt of a marozi killed by Michael Trent in 1931

While Africans have been familiar with the animal and Europeans have reported seeing spotted lions since roughly 1904, the first documentable encounter by a European was in 1931 when Kenyan farmer Michael Trent shot and killed two individuals in the Aberdare Mountains region at an elevation of 10,000 feet (3,000 m). The unusual spotted markings on what seemed to be smallish adult lions prompted interest from the Nairobi Game Department; they were from pubescent lions and yet had prominent spots that are typical only of cubs.

Gandar-Dower's expedition

Two years later, explorer Kenneth Gandar-Dower headed an expedition into the region in an attempt to capture or kill more specimens. He returned with only circumstantial evidence: three sets of tracks found at a similar elevation as Trent's lions (10,000–12,500 feet or 3,000–3,800 metres). They were believed to have been left by individuals that were tracking a herd of buffalo during a hunt, ruling out the possibility of the marozi being cubs. Dower also discovered that the natives had long differentiated the marozi from lions or leopards, which they referred to by different names. Aside from that, he found out that the marozi had also been called different names in other regions, such as "ntararago" in Uganda, "ikimizi" in Rwanda, and "abasambo" in Ethiopia. R. I. Pocock examined a skin and skull collected by Michael Trent, and discussed his findings in an appendix to Gandar-Dower's book, but he could not reach definite conclusions on the limited evidence available.

There were other sightings around the same time:

In 1963, zoologist Charles Albert Walter Guggisberg claimed that there is no reliable evidence for the marozi, despite the existence of the skin pictured above, saying "to this day nobody has been able to produce any proof of its existence".[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ Guggisberg, Charles Albert Walter. (1963). Simba, the Life of the Lion. Chilton Books. p. 50