Dad checks in on the kids

12 03 2011

We found the majority of our pride resting up in the Kruger area today (10th March). Athena and Kenge were presumably in their dens tending to their cubs whilst the father of the litters slumbered alone in the Amboseli area.

As the day progressed there wasn’t much movement from the girls so we went to check up on Milo. Rather than finding him still fast asleep he had moved off elsewhere. We whipped out our telemetry set to track Sir down and found him sat beneath a small tree some 100m from Athena’s den. Milo raised his golden mane into the blowing wind, sniffing the breeze, and perhaps smelling Athena and the cubs downwind.  After some time he moved closer towards the den. He paused briefly approximately 30m away to drink and roar softly. Our research team watched his every movement intently. Although we have every hope Milo will be a fantastic father this is the first time cubs have been born into the program under these conditions, and so monitoring his behaviour towards them is vital. He eventually proceeded up a small rocky outcrop towards Athena’s den in a fairly nonchalant manner. We spun our vehicle round to Athena’s den as quickly as we could to watch what may unfold yet Milo passed straight past his family and headed towards where we believe Kenge is currently denning.  We have previously seen Milo resting just metres from her brood with Kenge seemingly happy with his presence.

We were blessed with another breath-taking visual of Athena and cubs.  They climbed down from a boulder and all were seated amongst the towering grass. One little cub (who we are guessing could possibly be a male according to his size) ventured out of the grass from mum to take a look at us. The other two cubs also popped out to have a sneaky peak. We assumed it was mums presence that had given the little threesome a confidence boost and we watched as all cubs burst into life exploring their surroundings, chasing one another and leaping onto an unimpressed Athena’s head in between! Athena’s maternal instincts were very apparent by her soft calls to each cub that strayed away too far and her grooming of every cub that passed by.

With the sun setting behind this magical scene our research team could have stayed put all night. Although it is great to see each cub’s confidence already forming, and Athena’s acceptance of our presence around them, we do not want them to become too familiar with our vehicle. These cubs will never receive human contact or interference; this includes, as much as possible, the indirect effects of a vehicle. We must maintain a balance of gathering sufficient data whilst also allowing the cubs to grow and develop in a wild environment. We will be attempting to obtain a visual of the cubs only when necessary from now on for specific research purposes.

We could be wrong but we think the young cub pictured here is probably female.

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One response

14 03 2011
Lorraine Moss

Love the photo of the beautiful little lion. he has the look upon his face af if to say. “Hey look at me. Love it .

Kind regards
Lorraine Moss

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