Baby sitting

25 04 2011

Our research team made their way slowly down through Etosha into Kruger this morning (23rd April) following signal for Athena. To our pleasant surprise we found Kenge before hand, calling across the site apparently also looking for the pride. With telemetry signal indicating Athena to be within 100m we figured Kenge may very well lead us to her, and that she did. Athena seemed unusually frazzled and little AT1 was nowhere to be seen. Kenge settled down upon the grass close by to the panting Athena and it seemed our research team were in for a slow morning.

Just as we decided to try to begin looking for the rest of the pride Kenge launched herself towards Athena! Both let out ferocious growls and snarls and it soon became quite apparent Kenge’s ‘nap’ close to Athena was a very tactful move. It appeared Athena had made an impala kill! This explained the panting and from the condition of the sub- adult carcass the kill had only been made a little while before our arrival!

Stalemate set in as both females growled and held onto the impala for dear life, neither daring to move. This status quo was maintained for 10 minutes.   Realizing she was getting nowhere Kenge began to tuck in there and then! Eventually our females came to a truce and both fed peacefully alongside one another.

We found the rest of the pride by Leopard Tree down in the gully of the Valley. To our delight it appeared auntie Ashanti had taken it upon herself to be baby-sitter for the day whilst mum was hunting. She and all the pride members took turns playing with AT1 throughout the afternoon before mum returned just in time to lead her cub to some much needed shelter from a thunderous storm.

Over the past week or so AT1’s interactions towards the adults in her pride are showing some definite preferences.  In this graph we can see her own mother is, unsurprisingly, the object of the highest number of interactions, whilst aunty Kwali is a close second followed by Phyre.  Milo seems to be favoured more than we expected.  We have noticed for some reason that AT1 has completely ignored Nala in terms of who she chooses to interact with.

Although not initiating many social interactions with Ashanti, it is her mother’s sister who is most likely to be AT1’s nearest neighbour, second after her own mother.  Nala is the only lion who has never been AT1’s nearest neighbour.




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