Where is Ashanti?

9 11 2011

The pride have spent some time apart from each other these last few days.  During Saturday (5 November) the researchers could only locate Nala, Narnia and AT1 for the entire day.  Nala and Narnia had made a sneaky zebra kill in Amboseli and were acting quiet and secretive so as not to inform the rest of the pride about their large meal.  Normally the prey will make quite a lot of noise when it is taken down by a lion, which will alert the rest of the pride a kill has made.  As Nala and Narnia are low down in the pecking order, however, they usually get chased away from the kill, even though they are the ones who have usually done all the hard work.  This means that they do not get to reap the benefits of all their time and effort that has gone into taking down an animal.  So when they do get a chance to make a sly kill, they won’t tell the rest of the pride about their feast.  Good for them!

As AT1 has been hanging out quite a bit with the N’s, she was probably present when they brought down the animal early on Saturday morning.  This is good news, as it means she is learning from them how to hunt effectively.  It also means that she can eat in peace without any of the more dominant members of the pride kicking her off her dinner.  Lately, AT1 has been showing a greater interest in hunting and spent quite a bit of Monday (7 November) practising her techniques out on inanimate objects first of all and then stalked some zebra and francolin birds later  in the day.  She noticed that other members of the pride were vigilant to the zebra and became focused on the prey herself.  She sat quietly with her ears down and watched them as the animals walked by.  As the herd got closer, she crept behind a bush and waited until the zebra were not looking, and then snuck forward, where she found a very convenient dip in the ground to conceal herself.  Sadly, Narnia ran towards the zebra too soon and scared the herd away, but it is great to see that AT1 is showing fantastic hunting behaviour.

Phyre spent most of the last few days next to Milo however, towards the end of Tuesday, she started to get annoyed with his company.   Ashanti has been absent now for four days, which signifies that she may well have found herself a den to give birth.  It is not guaranteed that she is pregnant, but her behaviour and belly size indicate that she most likely is.  We will update you on news of potential cubs as this develops.





Ashanti & Athena on the move

10 06 2011

While most of the pride continued to feed on what was left of their zebra kill today (8th June), sisters Athena and Ashanti gave our research team a bit of a run-around Ngamo. We followed Ashanti, Athena and AT1 leaving the zebra carcass and their pride members early morning and cutting across into the Serengeti East area. As important as it is to be able to observe our pride for data collection purposes when the lions move off into the bush we try to keep to the designated roads of Ngamo in our vehicle to prevent damage to vegetation and subsequently altering the habitat in the long run. This meant whizzing around the open grass plains in hope of catching up with Athena on her detour. Fortunately one of our volunteers spotted a static Athena in the Hwange area and a large heard or zebra passing right in front of her unbeknown to the impending danger. Athena slipped into the long grass, down wind of the trailing zebra line and began to creep towards the sub-adults sheltered in the middle of the herd. The chase was on! Athena bolted from her cover once they were within 15m and headed straight into the herd. During the commotion she managed to separate one sub-adult.  The speedy youngster got away – probably due to Athena’s humongous belly slowing her down somewhat! In the meantime Ashanti had disappeared elsewhere. Later that afternoon we caught up with her in Etosha alone and appearing restless under a small bush. This behaviour is what our researcher has been expecting. As she draws closer to her due date Ashanti will begin to separate herself from her pride and begin to search for an ideal den to give birth within. We look forward to observing her progress during this exciting time!

As we have reported, this morning (10th June) our research team heard the unmistakable sound of cubs (plural) coming from an area in Hwange, near where Athena had her cubs.

Telemetry tells us that Ashanti is in there with an unknown number of tiny lions.  We will leave the family be and hope to see them when they emerge in several weeks time.  Good luck with your parenting Ashanti; your first litter!





and not forgetting…

7 05 2011

Our research team is feeling a tad guilty. It would seem our blogs have been rather unfairly focused upon a certain little cub and her mother recently, whilst neglecting Ngamo’s other important members….

So we thought we would focus our attentions on the recent happenings of our other lions in hope they will forgive our biases!

Towards the end of April the Ngamo pride were giving the impala a very hard time indeed with plenty of successful hunts.  And their hunting efforts are certainly not fading with fantastic displays of team work being observed almost daily!

On the 1st May we crept behind Athena and Narnia along Forest South Drive road into the Valley area. To our right we watched with bated breath as Kenge glided through the grass, intently focused.  Suddenly in the distance we saw a flash of amber-impala! They darted across the road into the Hwange area with an unknown lioness on their case. We lost visual of the others and silence fell upon the bush. Yet a rustle from a nearby thicket was quickly followed by a fleeing steenbok.  Some drawn out moments later and Phyre appeared lumbering through the grass and collapsing in the road, her steenbok antics obviously becoming too strenuous in the midday heat.





Together again

4 04 2011

Athena was found alone this morning (31 March) walking through the Valley area towards Tree Tops.  The sound of zebra alarm calls could be heard and as Athena continued her patrol the telemetry indicated that both Ashanti and Milo were up ahead.  Soon, signal was received for Nala, Narnia, Phyre and Kwali who were resting together at the top of the Tree Tops area.

Athena joined them, and soon after, so did Ashanti and Milo.  The pride remained vigilant towards passing animals, including a herd of impala, but no attempted hunt was observed.  Kenge, according to her radio collar is still on the far side of the site in Serengeti West.

Later in the day Milo had relocated to the Masai Mara area whilst the girls had stayed put near waterhole three, although Kenge had made the long journey to join them.  This is further evidence that Kenge’s cubs are old enough to be left on their own for periods and we expect to be getting more visuals of her duo over the coming days as they become more mobile.

As dusk started to fall Phyre led the pride into the Kruger section of the site; all lions clearly looking for dinner.

The following morning and the pride had clearly failed in their hunting attempts overnight.  The girls were found in Amboseli but Kenge had now left the pride to return to her den and Milo had joined.  The pride enjoyed a roaring session whilst Nala and Narnia chased each other around in play.

Later the pride (ex. Milo and Kenge) returned to waterhole three giving all impala they encountered enroute a hard time.

Darkness fell on the Ngamo release site and our research team entered the night life of the pride.  Clearly hungry and active our pride was on the move again.  With Athena and Kenge in attendance the girls moved silently towards the Kruger area.

Seemingly, no kill was made; but a zebra was seen with a fresh wound on its thigh as the sun rose on a new day.  Even the most dynamic hunting group can miss occasionally!





Kenge: the unassuming hunter

26 02 2011

Kenge with her sister and Ngamo pride mate Kwali were born on 31st October 2004.  The litter comprised one male and two females; the girls’ brother being Kwezi.  As a group they became known as “the 3Ks”.  Kenge means “everything’s going to be alright!”

 

Kenge was a very skittish cub to start with but she had lightening fast reactions and from an early age showed some of the hunting promise that she was to perfect later on.  The 3Ks went on their first Night Encounter on 22nd July 2006 and were an immediate success, taking a wildebeest on their first hunt.  They went on to successfully hunt duiker, steenbok, more wildebeest, guinea fowl and a number of impala.  Athena was added to the group on 17th December 2006 and joined the 3Ks on their continuing success taking many more impala, rabbit, duiker, wildebeest and red hartebeest.

Kenge was released into stage two in August 2007 and was an integral part of the pride’s hunting success.

After re-release in the Ngamo site in September 2010 Kenge is most likely to be found in the company of Ashanti, the pride’s alpha female or Phyre.  Kenge is most likely to socially interact with Phyre whilst receiving the highest number of social greetings from Nala.

Earlier today Kenge moved her two cubs to a location nearer waterhole two, and is therefore not far from Athena, our other suckling mother








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