Up in the trees

14 04 2011

Its the morning of 10th April, and as the sun rises the familiar shapes of Ashanti, Nala, Narnia, Phyre and Athena appear on a march from Serengeti East area through the Mara and into the Amboseli area.  As they settle down the youngster engages in play with Narnia.

Milo joins the girls during the mid-morning whilst Kwali is discovered on her own in the Tree Tops area; clear the other side of the site.

Kenge is with her two cubs who have discovered the joys of tree climbing.

Back at the main pride unit Athena’s cub is found playing with Ashanti whilst Athena with Phyre and Nala with Narnia all engage in a spot of vigorous face licking.

The scene is very similar through the 11th with lions coming and going from the main pride and Athena’s cub playing variously with different pride members.

One interesting pattern that we are seeing is a correlation between an adult lions’ dominance position within the pride and their engagement in play with Athena’s cub.  63% of observed play has been with the pride’s least dominant members Nala & Narnia.  At the other end of the scale Milo and Phyre seem to be approached for play by the cub significantly less.   Whilst Nala and Narnia are also the high on the list of the pride’s most sociable cats anyway this correlation falls down given that Phyre is the most sociable lion but is not a lion the cub regularly plays with.  Is it possible the cub has already understood the relative dominance positions of its pride?

Phyre, Nala, Narnia, Athena and Ashanti were observed attempting to hunt impala.  One lion circled around and started a chase to push the prey into the waiting ambush by the other four females; but the hunt proved to be unsuccessful.  Nala has been seen limping and may have pulled a muscle in the hunt.


Kwali under fire

25 03 2011

Since the 18th we’ve had numerous sightings of Kenge and Athena with their cubs. Kenge has now moved to her 7th den and we estimate her cubs to be reaching approximately 5 weeks old now. Both cubs are becoming more mobile and therefore more curious around the den, which is keeping Kenge on her toes.

We’ve also seen Athena continue to bring her threesome out more and more.

Another zebra kill was found the morning of the 20th setting the perfect family breakfast scene with Milo, Athena and cubs all gathered around.

Part of the data we are collecting and analyzing upon the pride is focused upon social interactions. From this data we can obtain a greater understanding of bonds and social dominance within the pride. With the long absences of Kenge and Athena, and the slow integration of cubs, the pride’s social structure has come under some strain recently.  This was highlighted on the 24th by a brief scuffle directed towards Kwali.  Whilst sleeping soundly Ashanti and Narnia rose and began to cautiously approach Kwali.  Kwali woke and was instantly threatened by the circling lionesses, but before she could move away Ashanti and Narnia gave her a quick, sharp bite and clap around the rump. A huge roaring chorus followed and all then settled down again. Pride members will occasionally ‘test’ their dominance over others, especially when the pride is in flux, as is the case at the moment.


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