Friday (30 December) turned out to be quite an action-packed day in Ngamo. After a very sleepy start with Nala, Narnia, Phyre, Kwali and AT1 all dozing in Masai Mara, we left the lazy lions in search of their fellow pride members. In Treetops we found them, and what a surprise we got.
Ashanti was sitting with her two cubs playing around her, Milo was sitting on a wildebeest kill and Kenge was sitting alone looking on at Milo, obviously waiting for her opportunity to eat! The usually grumpy Milo lay beside the carcass growling, fearful of any advances the lionesses may make. Eventually Milo drifted off to sleep and Kenge seized her opportunity and approached ever so slowly. Just as she began her breakfast Milo awoke and Kenge hastily attempted to drag the carcass away. Milo threw his weight down and the stubborn pair sat on the wildebeest, neither one willing to submit, for over 30 minutes.
Ashanti, seeing that she was not going to get the opportunity to eat left with her cubs, perhaps taking them to safety before returning to fight for her portion. Kenge finally managed to tear off a leg and ran into bushes to enjoy it peacefully and, as suspected, Ashanti returned without her cubs for her chance to dine.
Mid morning and MI in his usual fashion was sleeping, holding tightly to the carcass. Kenge was still nearby, now with KE3 and KE4. Milo once again began to snack and the curious cubs made their way over to see what dad was doing. Surprisingly, without any hesitation the pair tucked into the wildebeest. Their very first taste of meat!
Overzealous KE3 got a little too close to Milo and he swiped at her flipping her head over paws into a somersault. Stunned by dad’s outburst KE3 and KE4 both ran to mum calling for reassurance. Not being too put off by Milo’s dominance the brave pair re-approached him but decided this time to eat their first meal slightly further away to avoid any more collisions. After a while Milo had had his fill and left the carcass to his two young cubs. KE4 instantly spotted the wildebeest’s horns and, just like dad, began to drag them away. KE3 could not resist joining in the fun but was met with a quick bop on the nose and a mini growl from angry little KE4. It seems KE4 has been paying more attention around the adults than we thought! Intent on finding something else to play with, KE3 amused herself with the mane of the wildebeest that lay amongst the remains.
By late afternoon Phyre, Kwali, Nala, Narnia and AT1 had woken from their sleep and were no longer in Masai Mara. AT1 had found her way to this morning’s wildebeest carcass and was doing her best to find some scraps that had been left on the bones. Without much success she moved on, anxiously looking for her fellow pride members. After a few moments of wandering in and out of long grass and shrubs she, and ourselves, heard growling close by. At one of the furthermost parts of the site in Treetops an impala had just met its end at the claws of Nala, Narnia, Phyre, Kwali and Ashanti. As the girls all took hold it was Kwali who seized the prize and ran away with the almost intact carcass leaving Nala, Narnia, Phyre and Ashanti with only very small pieces. The late arriving AT1 unfortunately went without and did her best to lie flat to the ground whilst creeping up behind Ashanti in the hope of gaining something to eat. Ashanti, aware of AT1’s sneaky intentions, swiped at her forcing her back and continued to eat the small portion she had managed to get for herself.
Saturday (31 December) morning was quite subdued compared to yesterday with Milo resting on his own in Etosha. Phyre, AT1, Nala, Narnia, Kwali, Kenge, KE3 and KE4 were not too far away from him lazing in Serengeti East. The ever-playful cubs spent their time as usual making their own fun and, while KE4 attempted to chase a bird, KE3 climbed a short way up a tree and sat for a while chewing on the branches.
As the day, and an eventful 2011, drew to an end Ashanti and Kenge tended to their cubs in their respective dens; Milo, Phyre, Kwali, Nala, Narnia and AT1 were resting together, and we left the Ngamo pride wishing them all a very strong and healthy new year with every hope for their continued success in 2012.