Look whose coming to dinner!

17 03 2011

We stumbled across some very lethargic lionesses this morning (14th March) in the Amboseli area. Ashanti, Kwali and Narnia lay strewn across the road looking somehow even fatter than the previous day.

Signal from our telemetry set indicated that the rest of the pride, except for Kenge, was also close by. Our team took a well-mannered detour around the comatose lions in the road and headed up into the Masai Mara area. As signal became stronger so did a rather pungent smell. Before our team knew it we had spotted another zebra kill.   The visual was fairly poor upon approach and the smell indicated it to have been made some hours earlier in the morning perhaps.

Then, out of the long grass came Athena with her precious little threesome in tow.  As the family passed Phyre we heard a fairly large growl from her followed quickly by Athena jumping on her.  The incident happened so fast we struggled to establish what had actually sparked the upset.  The cubs did not seem to notice anything.

Athena and her cubs continued down the road in search of the latest kill.

The kill had been dragged under a tree and Athena settled in to feed whilst the youngsters played peek-a-book over her hind quarters.

But the family were not alone.  The explanation as why the rest of the pride females were not feeding became clear when the hairy shape of Milo became evident at the other side of the carcass.

The cubs could not resist going over to see dad who seemed to revel in having his family all around him; rolling on to his back and letting the cubs come up and paw his nose.

Once sated Athena had a cat nap whilst the youngsters helped themselves to her milk.

Soon enough it was time for the family to head away from the pride to find a quiet spot to spend the rest of the day.

The cubs still had some energy and proceeded to explore around the chosen den site.

As mum settled in for the afternoon the day’s excitement started to take its toll on the little ones and they too started to drift off.

Our first cubs borne to the pride that will become the first lions released back into the wild are doing very well, and are obviously being very well cared for by their mother; the beautiful Athena.

In the afternoon Athena let out a soft, delicate call to her cubs and all 3 sleeping beauties responded immediately and approached mum before moving off.   They briefly stopped to quench their thirst from a puddle just as a storm began to roll in upon us and them. The wind instantly picked up and all cubs huddled beneath mum for protection from the elements. Athena glanced at the black clouds looming over the hill and quickly led her litter further along the road and into the distance presumably to the warmth and comfort of protected den.

The presence of the cubs at the kill today is a great indication that their integration into the pride is going well. All pride members, especially Milo appeared relaxed and forthcoming to the cubs with the exception of Phyre’s brief growl! Being a dominant female Phyre will attempt to assert her dominance almost immediately over Athena’s cubs. We are hoping Phyre will also have cubs herself this year and this will certainly help her to bond better with other pride members’ cubs. We eventually expect to see the formation of a crèche amongst our mothers.

By forming a crèche our lionesses are increasing their cub survival chances whilst also sharing out the motherly duties! Cubs within a crèche will suckle from all lactating females boosting their immune system and also creating further social bonds within the pride.

There’s certainly a lot to look forward to in Ngamo!

 

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3 responses

17 03 2011
Samantha Coleman

What fab pictures, well done to how ever took them. I am loving the last three pictures, esp of the clubs resting – what bliss.
It must be a proud moment to see the Lionesses doing well, and then bring there young into such a great enviorment.
Well done to the whole team, you are great parents/guardines

18 03 2011
Helen Whitford

Just magic! This is so beautiful! Everything coming together as it should, those cubs looking sooo gorgeous and Athena and Milo being great parents! Thanks for sharing these beautiful pics! : D

18 03 2011
Joyce Kinton

Hi David, So happy to see youre latest pics of the wonderful lions in your programme…
I always feel better for seeing you on TV…
I hear there wont be any more of them after next week..
Im sorry if thats true, will miss you…
I want to thank you for these gorgeous lions and cubs…
I will def keep coming to your page to keep up with your programme…
Keep up the good work, best wishes Joyce x

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