The ongoing story

26 10 2011

The pride have continued to go through turbulent times.  Although a cub was located in Etosha with the pride early on Saturday (15 October) morning, no mother appeared to be nursing it.  AT1 was seen cuddled up next to it (and at one point in the day, the cub laid over the belly of AT1), but later on in the day when the pride started to move off and Athena tried to pick the cub up to take it with her, AT1 came trotting along to knock it out of her mother’s mouth.  The pride then left for the direction of Amboseli, leaving the cub by itself once more.

The cub was then not seen again until the following evening (16 October), where it was then located within the same area as the previous day.  The pride walked past the calling cub, but alas again no lion went over to see to it or take it with them.  The researchers noticed that the cub appeared to be thinner than it had been the day before, signalling that it probably hadn’t been nursed all day.

On Monday (17th), we went in to the release site in the morning to see the cub in Etosha under the same tree.  By that point it looked very thin and was in a deep sleep.  As the day went on, it became more and more lifeless and its breathing slowed down.

The whole pride (minus the denning Kenge) were sat in Amboseli the whole of Monday.  A group of crows started to congregate on the fence in the morning about 30 metres from the resting lions.  Kwali got up to chase them away, with Milo following behind.  The researchers assumed that the crows were probably pecking on some of bones found around that area from old kills.  However, later on in the day, Phyre got up to walk over to that same area and started to softly call and look around on the ground.  We originally thought she was calling to get the rest of the pride to follow her but then she sat down in the grass near to where the crows had been looking.  After a few minutes, Athena went over to her and picked up a lifeless cub from the ground next to Phyre.  The researchers left to confirm whether this was the same cub that we saw under the tree in Etosha during the previous few days.  However, sadly, it was not.  That particular cub was still alive (just about).

Now this complicates the drama going on with the cubs, because either one of these two cubs is Kenge’s, or both cubs that we saw Athena with over the last week have somehow miraculously been kept alive.  Phyre definitely seemed to be attached to the one she was seen next to, but she paid no attention to the one under the tree in Etosha for the days that we saw the pride there.  Either she has abandoned that cub entirely, or this cub is Kenge’s.   We will never know for certain, as we were not able to get a visual on how many cubs Kenge started off with and we cannot locate her any more as she has moved dens.  We just hope that she is being a great mother and will continue to look after any cubs she may have.

The researchers entered the site on Tuesday (18 October) morning to find the little abandoned cub in Etosha still alive.  However, it was breathing very slowly and did not respond to any stimuli around it.  It looked rather thin and had probably not suckled for a couple of days.  The researchers left to find the rest of the pride in Kruger and were pleasantly surprised to see Kenge present.  She looked fat, happy and content, and we were glad to see that her nipples looked like they had been very recently suckled.  It is common for mothers to come back to the pride every so often to check up on everyone and see if they have made a kill.  Unfortunately for Kenge, this time round the lions were being rather lazy and there was no sign of any imminent hunting action.  She left to rejoin her cubs later on in the day, and by the time the researchers came back in the afternoon, she was nowhere to be seen again.


By Wednesday (19 October) the researchers found that the little abandoned cub in Etosha had sadly died during the night.  It was taken out of the release site for a post-mortem; however, no signs of illness or malformation were found, therefore it was concluded that the cause of death was starvation from abandonment by its mother and the rest of the pride.  It also looked as if it had sustained a thigh injury possibly from when AT1 was picking it up by its legs.

The Ngamo pride have been getting very hungry of late.  Their last confirmed feed was on 14 October and the entire pride have been losing body condition since that date.  It appears Kenge has also been getting hungry as she has been present with the rest of the group for at least a few hours almost every day for the last four days.  By 23 October (Sunday) the entire pride were hot, grumpy and hungry.  They found the smallest possible tree to sit under next to waterhole three and were all fighting over the best spot.  Milo, as always, was bossing the rest of the group around and kept snarling at anyone that got too close to him.

At one point on Sunday, Nala appeared to be so hungry that she tried her luck at stalking a large group of vervet monkeys.  However, ever the vigilant and clever things that they are, the monkeys saw Nala far before she could get the chance to chase after them.  They scarpered up trees and looked down upon her, most probably with a smug look on their faces!

By the late afternoon, the pride had barely moved since the midday session.  Suddenly, Kwali put her head up, sniffed the air, and ran off.  The rest of the pride was soon to follow and they broke into a chase after her.  The researchers quickly followed to see what all the fuss was about and found the lions sniffing the ground and the air, looking around them at the back of Tree Tops.  It appeared as if this was territorial behaviour rather than hunting.

On 24 October (Monday) the lions finally decided to wake from their slumber later in the afternoon to hunt.  The researchers entered the site to find the entire pride munching on the remains of an impala in Amboseli, all covered in blood and chowing on the meat as if they’d never eaten before.  It was good to see them feeding again after so long, but one impala will not sustain the pride for long, so we expect to see them hunting again soon.  In fact, no sooner had they left the small remains of the carcass that AT1 was seen stalking, chasing and very almost catching a guinea fowl!  Good for her!




2 responses

27 10 2011

This is so terribly sad that the little cub has died from starvation. Cannot possibly imagine the suffering that he/she went through.
I understand you want to create “wild” environment and there are probably lots of cubs that die because their Mums abandon them, but the researchers seeing the cub and acknowledging that it was looking thin, could you not have done something to help its survival?. Very sad.

21 11 2011

Bllogger should try to put the Pride information up to date. That would b great

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