A very Ngamo Christmas

29 12 2011

On entering the site on Saturday (24 December) we met Nala, Narnia and Milo all resting together once again in Kruger.  The two loving sisters, even proving it in their sleep; they amusingly slept side by side in mirror image of each other.  It was a morning of very little activity with the only effort being made by Milo as he walked to waterhole 3 for a drink.  By midday Narnia had left her sister and Milo and had met up with Kenge who was taking a well-earned break from her playful cubs.  Meanwhile Ashanti, Kwali, Phyre and AT1 were spending their Christmas Eve in The Valley.

On Sunday (25 December), in the true spirit of Christmas, the whole pride came together and was all resting in Etosha where they remained for most of the morning.  The only thing missing from their Christmas Day was their Christmas dinner and by early evening Ashanti and Narnia had taken it upon themselves to remedy the situation by stalking a large herd, full of variety, with wildebeest, zebra and impala.  Nala soon awoke and joined her sister and Ashanti in the hunt, instinctively flanking to the left.  Kwali also joined in, followed closely by hunter in training, AT1.  AT1 walked alongside Kwali as she too stalked the array of food ahead of them, stopping occasionally to observe the girls at work.   After a lengthy session of stalking we left the lions with their gazes fixed upon their potential festive feast and wished them all a happy Christmas.

Monday (26 December) morning and yesterday’s hunt must have paid off as four fat lions in the form of Kwali, Nala, Narnia and Phyre were lying about in Treetops.   Our researcher was unable to find the carcass of the unfortunate victim but suspect it may well have been a wildebeest one was “missing” in the site today.  Around midday AT1 waddled from waterhole 3 with blood on her face and a huge belly! Ashanti later joined the group having eaten a good meal too but she soon left her pride members to join her cubs who were tucked up safely in their den.  As the sky clouded over and heavy rain set in Kenge, Kwali, Narnia, Nala, Phyre and AT1 all took what shelter they could in the long grass where they spent the rest of the evening sleeping off their dinner.  It seems that the pride, like many of us at this time of year, may have over-indulged a little!


Has Phyre left the pride to make a den?

3 10 2011

Sisters can sometimes quarrel with each other, fighting for attention or dominance.  However, this has never seemed to be a problem with twins Nala and Narnia, as they are practically glued at the hip.  It is rarer to see the N’s apart than together – in fact, they spend most of the day within a metre of each other.  Lately they have been strengthening this sisterly bond through intense, long grooming sessions; sometimes lasting for 10 or more minutes.  As both lionesses are low in the ranks of the pride they are not often groomed by the other more senior members of the group, so is it nice to see that they look out for each other in this respect.

The N’s are also the most playful of the adult lions; they make great aunties for AT1.  Lately, the cub has been practising her stalking techniques out on the sleeping Nala.  On Friday (30 September) AT1 was seen tactfully using the cover of a small shrub to sneak up on the unaware lioness and pounce on her head!  Most members of the group would be rather annoyed about being woken up from their slumber in this way, but being such a fantastic aunt that she is, Nala gave back as good as she got, as she play-bit AT1 and biffed her gently in a pretend fight.

The researchers have been getting excited these past few days.  Probably-pregnant Phyre and Kenge were found early in the morning resting together by themselves in Hwange on Friday (30 September), but when the researchers came back to see them just before leaving the site for breakfast, they could not locate them.  In fact, both lionesses escaped their radar for the rest of the day.  It was assumed that maybe the lionesses have decided to go and find a den to have cubs; both females are right in the window for expected gestation length to give birth at any time now, if they did in fact successfully conceive..  However, by Saturday morning (1 October) Kenge was spotted walking up Route 66 behind Nala and AT1.  It seems like she has decided that it’s not quite the right time for her to den just yet, but as Phyre was still absent for the entire day, the researchers hope that she has found herself a nice and secluded spot to give birth.   Watch this space!

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