On 10th January Phyre, Kwali, Nala, Narnia, Ashanti, AT1, KE, KE3 and KE4 were all resting in Etosha. Our researcher was disappointed to see Ashanti present again with the group as for the past few days she has been spending a lot of time with the pride, causing concern about the amount of time she is absent from her cubs in their den. Hopefully she is returning to her den outside of our research hours, or during the night to feed her young. Kenge, appearing to be a slightly more attentive mother, was resting nearby with KE3 and KE4 and the cubs suckled from Ashanti occasionally giving Kenge a bit of a break.
The pride spent the whole day lazing about except, that is, for KE3 and KE4 who were trying to get AT1 to join in with passing the time as the adults slept. AT1 looked unsure of what to do as the cubs clambered over her and ran through her legs and she tried to pick up one of the pesky playmates in her mouth before they got away. Clearly uncomfortable with the whole situation, AT1 moved and sat a few metres away from them and let them continue making their own fun. As the evening arrived the lions slowly started to wake. Kenge stood up and began walking and slowly, one by one, the others followed. Milo stayed behind for a few moments with his cubs but then shortly caught up with everyone.
The pride crossed the width of the site travelling though Serengeti East and Hwange before finally stopping in The Valley. We were intrigued as to the reason for their long walk, perhaps they were hunting or looking for something, but when they finally came to rest it seemed that there was no obvious reason for the procession. It could be that they were patrolling their territory or perhaps they just simply fancied a nice evening stroll but on this occasion it seems only the lions will know.
The next day (11th January), following their long walk from the previous day, Phyre, Kwali, Nala, Narnia, AT1, Kenge, KE3&4 and Milo had all returned to Etosha. At first sighting of the lions we were relieved to see that Ashanti was not present suggesting that she was at her den looking after her cubs but when we caught a glimpse of her in the long grass worry began to set in. But the worry was to be short-lived as right beside her were her two cubs; fit, healthy and suckling mum.
AS4 and AS5 played alongside KE3 and KE4 even managing to hold their own when Kenge’s cubs, being that little bit bigger, threw their miniature weight around and forced the pride’s newest members into play fighting. However it seems that Ashanti’s two cubs may not be the newest additions to the Ngamo pride for very long because, as suspected, Phyre is indeed pregnant, estimating that she may give birth in mid-February. The Ngamo release site is soon to become the Ngamo crèche!
As the day drew on and Ashanti had returned her cubs to their den, KE3 and KE4 moved on to AT1 for their entertainment. Playing with AT1’s tail, much to her annoyance, she slapped at KE4….who bravely slapped her back! Meanwhile KE3 practiced her early hunting tactics by ‘stalking’ Kwali when she was not looking. However KE3 was not as daring as KE4 and when she reached Kwali she merely gave her a friendly head rub. Not to worry, she has plenty of time yet.
By Thursday (12th January) the lions were beginning to get rather hungry, having last eaten 6 days ago. After spending the majority of their day resting in Kruger on their favourite anthill, Phyre, Ashanti, Kwali, Kenge, Nala, Narnia, AT1 and Milo all made their way towards waterhole 1. It wasn’t too long before they were running and we followed quickly behind them to find out the source of the excitement. It was impala, grazing in Masai Mara. Unfortunately before the lions could plan their attack something spooked the impala and they ran off in the direction of Serengeti West. The pride, a bit perplexed at their chance of a meal escaping them continued to sit in Masai Mara which is where we left them for the day, hoping they may be more successful through the night.