Peace returns to the Ngamo pride

29 10 2011

Following on from the decision to move Athena from the Ngamo pride on 26 October, we are pleased to announce that she has settled in well at Antelope Park’s breeding program.  We were initially concerned that she may become highly stressed without having AT1 around or being with the rest of the Ngamo pride, but it appears she has actually taken a liking to the male in the enclosure next to her.  Additionally, we were worried that AT1 would be distressed without her mother present, but this anxiety was quickly washed away when we saw AT1 with Milo, Phyre and Kwali early on Thursday (27 October).  She was sat next to Phyre, who appears to have taken AT1 under her wing.  It could be that the loss of her own cubs has made her more maternal towards AT1.  Phyre is normally a very grumpy female and has been especially intolerant of AT1’s playful advances, but throughout Thursday she was spotted greeting her and sitting with her.  At one point in the heat of the day, Phyre tried hiding in the stump of a tree and amused the researchers greatly by squashing her face in between part of the tree trunks.  It did not look a comfortable place to sleep!

Later on in the day, AT1 went to go hang out with easy-going Kwali and they slept peacefully next to each other during the hottest part of the day.  By evening, Narnia and Nala had killed a wildebeest in Etosha – frustratingly enough, we heard the wildebeest call from behind us but by the time we got there, the professional hunting team of lionesses had already exacted their supreme skill on the wildebeest.  It wasn’t long until the rest of the pride joined, with AT1 following on behind Kwali.  The lions ate greedily, ripping the carcass to shreds and running off with parts of the flesh.  AT1, as always was quite able to hold her own and munch away happily.

By Friday (28 October), most of the pride were found in Etosha with hugely extended bellies.  They had obviously consumed the entire wildebeest from the day before, as well as killing a zebra that night in Kruger.  AT1 was spotted following Narnia round for a large part of the day, who was keen to initiate play with her whenever the sun went behind the clouds, making the heat a bit more tolerable.  By the afternoon session, AT1 and Narnia were slumped under a tree by waterhole three; Phyre, Milo and Kenge approached from Kruger and AT1 jumped up from her sleep, ran towards Phyre and Milo and greeted them with much enthusiasm.  Her newly arranged family have accepted the change well and all lions appear happy and content.  Kenge is returning to a den site where no doubt her two cubs are flourishing.

Readers should note that ALERT accepts that impacts on the behaviour and stress levels of the lions may exist that cannot necessarily be observed.

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