Happy first birthday to AT1

29 01 2012

On Thursday (19th January) morning as we entered the site we found Phyre, AT1, Nala, Narnia and Milo all relaxing on Route 66 in Masai Mara.  It was a peaceful morning until all of a sudden we caught sight of impala and zebra running through Amboseli.  It was the unmistakable scurry that comes with being chased and after a few moments we soon saw the reason for the panic as Ashanti bound behind the herd at full pace.  We too joined the chase but, just as we were getting our hopes up, the herd escaped the clutches of Ashanti and she retreated realising they had gained too much distance for her to keep up.  Just as our excitement levels began to settle we were off again but this time it was Kwali causing the commotion, flanking the herd from the opposite direction.  Kenge was also out for a spot of morning hunting and, hanging back slightly, she watched intently as her sister took her turn to give chase.  Unfortunately, despite Kwali’s best efforts she too was unable to make up the distance and, for at least today, she and the hungry mums would have to do without breakfast.

Friday 20th January and a very special little lion turned one year old today. Happy birthday AT1!  By now the lions were more than ready for a meal and as the sun began to warm the day Phyre, Kenge, Nala, Narnia together with the birthday girl all took a stroll along Route 66 in search of prey.  Ashanti and Kwali were resting together in Serengeti East and as the girls made their way along the road they all came together and continued their search.  It was not before long that Kwali seemed to pick up on a scent and she walked briskly, visibly switching into hunting mode.  The rest of the girls, seeing Kwali become so alert, also followed and they made their way deeper into Serengeti East.  Phyre soon took the lead and began to run and as she did Nala and Kenge flanked to the left and hid amongst trees, all the while our Researcher unaware of what it was they were hunting.  As they all made their way through Hwange and as they neared the boundary we soon saw the reason for their excitement but alas the lions would have no success again today.  The girls resorted to their second favourite pastime and slept through the afternoon, only stirring as the sun began to set and bringing with it a rather busy period of grooming and licking, reaffirming the strong bond our pride females all have with each other.

On Saturday (21st January) morning the pride’s wait for a good meal was over as Milo, Phyre and Kenge were in Masai Mara at a zebra kill.  Nala, Narnia, Kwali, Ashanti and AT1 were spotted in the near distance having had their fill and carrying their fat bellies to rest at waterhole 1.  After a quick drink Nala, Narnia and Ashanti made their way towards Etosha, quite possibly for Ashanti to meet up with her cubs who we had seen earlier hiding in the safety of the long grass.  By mid-morning KE3 and KE4 had joined mum and dad at the zebra carcass.  Milo was being his usual greedy self and clutching on to the carcass while resting.  Although even our dominant pride male has a soft side for his offspring and, as he has done previously with AT1, he allowed only KE3 to eat from his claimed meal, growling at Phyre as she got closer to him and his cub.

By the afternoon Kenge, presuming Milo must be ready to give up his hold on the carcass by now, made her way over to eat but as usual Milo was still not willing to share and he and Kenge fought with Milo biting into Kenge’s back as she grabbed hold of the carcass.  The tussle frightened little KE3 and KE4 and they ran away looking on at mum and dad and crying out.   A few minutes later Kenge, realising the last few mouthfuls were not worth the trouble, gave up her hold on the zebra and she returned to her young cubs reassuring them with a mini head rub that all was well as the day came to an end.

These images have been taken by photographic volunteer Carole Deschuymere.  If you would like the opportunity to be in her position to get photos such as these, then visit our volunteer page and click on the link “Wildlife Photography” listed under Antelope Park.

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4 responses

29 01 2012
Helga

Happy birthday to AT1 (Wakanaka) and thanks for the lovely pictures. It really makes me happy seeing her thriving and playing her part in the success of the Ngamo Pride. Look forward to more stories from AT1 and the NP.

30 01 2012
Yvonne Barton

Happy Birthday AT1 – you’re a beautiful little lioness! I look forward to many more photos as you grow up.

30 01 2012
Greentracker

I have a good collection of books and not short on reading material, but I have to say, these posts keep my interest so stimulated, not only for the great way the research team put everyday life of the pride into words, but adding brilliant photo’s too, will have me coming back every time… Great stuff and really well done to all at AP. Happy Birthday AT1..!!

29 02 2012
maureen

What fantastic photos!

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