Marozi: A lion and leopard hybrid?

Marozi - Page 1: Evidence Of A New Species | 2: Theories | 3: Examination Of The Specimens |
4: Cryptozoological Artwork

A natural big cat hybrid?:

Much debate surrounds the elusive African marozi. Also known as the 'spotted lion', it is often considered to have been a naturally-occurring hybridisation between the lion and the leopard.

The pelage consisted of the usual tawny ground colour found on the lion skin, but was liberally covered with spots such as those on the leopard.

Previously an animal of myth and rumour a small amount of evidence now exists to prove this big cat was a reality, even if we still don't know how it came about.

The start of the maroz storyi:

It was in 1931 that Kenyan farmer Michael Trent shot two sub-adult lions in Kenya's Aberdare Mountains. They were mounted for trophy display and came to the attention of the Nairobi Game Department due to the unusual spotting across their coats.

Lions are spotted as cubs and this is a normal part of their camouflage, however the two trophy lions were well past an age when they should have lost their juvenile pelage.

Marozi expeditions:

Kenneth Dower was the first person to make a concentrated effort to locate this mysterious animal. His expeditions were to turn up only circumstantial evidence.

In total three sets of tracks (spoor) were found and these were assumed to belong to marozi, largely due to their being located at high altitude. The spotted lions shot by Michael Trent had been at a high elevation (10,000 feet) and these new animals were also at a similar height.

Spoor Finding #1:

This involved a pair of cats and the conclusion reached was that they were probably male and female.

The male tracks were larger than those of a leopard, while being smaller than a lion. They appeared to be following a herd of buffalo, so cubs were ruled out, it being suspected these were adults hunting.

Spoor Finding #2:

Not long after this another track was found at an elevation of 12,500 feet. Again, the height drew an assumption that the tracks belonged to the mysterious spotted animal.

During another expedition Dower concluded the group had missed a sighting of the marozi by only 24 hours.

Perhaps most significantly, it was established that the natives both recognised, and had a name for, this animal. They called it the 'marozi'. There was no confusion among natives between the high altitude spotted lions and their plains cousins. The native name for the latter was the 'simba'.

It was subsequently discovered the spotted lion was identified by a variety of names in other mountainous areas:

    • ntararago in Uganda
    • ikimizi in Rwanda
    • abasambo in Ethiopia

    Though no real proof of for the existence of the marozi was found, the expedition was singularly responsible for bringing the mysterious specimens to international attention.

    Other reports:

    Dower's search bought to light other reports of people who had also seen or heard rumour of the marozi. A suspected pair had been sighted along the Kinangop Plateau; they were at an elevation of 11,500 feet. An attempt was made to shoot one of the cats, but they escaped.

    Another four animals were sighted by a game warden in 1931. These marozi were again at 10,000 feet and in the Aberdare Mountain area.

    Around the same time a big cat was killed in a trap and this too is thought to have been a marozi.

    All in all there were plenty of sightings, particularly by native peoples, but the mystery remained:

    What was the cat?

Marozi - Page 1: Evidence Of A New Species | 2: Theories | 3: Examination Of The Specimens |
4: Cryptozoological Artwork

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Artwork With Thanks To William M. Rebsamen
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