The rain comes: moving day for the cubs

5 10 2011

The last few days have been very chaotic for both the pride and researchers.  With Phyre attending to her new cubs and Kenge currently off to den, the rest of the group appeared to be scattered and indecisive.  The researchers spotted individual and pairs of lions all across the release site on both Monday (3 October) and Tuesday (4 October), with many of the pride not staying long in any one location.  The weather has probably got a lot to do with this restless behaviour, as the rains arrived on Monday, causing the temperature to drop and bringing more energy to the usually sedentary lions during the middle of the day.

The rains have also possibly been the cause of Phyre moving her cubs from a dense thicket near Route 66 to a rocky thicket in Serengeti East, which, coincidentally enough, just happens to be exactly the same spot where AT1 spent much of the start of her life.  As the storms can be prolonged and heavy, it is a good decision for Phyre to transfer her precious offspring to an area that will not become thick with sticky mud.  The cubs were spotted again on Tuesday suckling from a very sleepy mother – it must sap a lot of energy looking after continually hungry kids!

By Tuesday afternoon the whole pride were found in Serengeti East close to the carcass of a giraffe that had recently died of natural causes.  It came as a bit of a surprise to the researchers to see both Phyre and Kenge present at the kill, the latter of whom looked like her tummy had shrunk somewhat from the last time she was spotted.  This indicates that she has probably given birth, but we are not sure of her den location nor of the number of cubs that have been born yet.  She appeared to be absolutely famished as she gulped down as much of the giraffe carcass as she possibly could with a surprisingly calm Milo next to her.  Does he know that she has recently given birth to his cubs and therefore allowed her to feed next to him so that she could have enough energy reserves to go back and attend to their offspring?

Just before the end of the research session, vultures started to descend onto one part of the carcass that was located in the shade of some trees about 70 m from the pride.  Ashanti scoured the sky and drew her gaze down to the location that the vultures appeared to be dropping into.  She then got up and started to walk towards the vultures, with Kenge and Milo quick to follow.  They broke out into a run and chased the scavengers away.  One of the poor vultures was a bit too slow to get off the ground, however, and was taken down by the surprisingly energetic Kenge!  She went over to sniff the dying bird and the researchers wondered whether she would eat it.  It appeared that giraffe tastes much better than vulture though as she left it on the ground for Milo and Kwali to take a closer look.  None of the lions took much interest in it and decided to go back to the tasty giraffe.  As the researchers approached, they noticed the vulture was still breathing as it lay on the ground and hoped that it would not be in pain for much longer.

As the sun began to set over the release site, Phyre decided to return to her cubs after getting her fill from the carcass.  It was nice to see that Kwali has not given up her role as maternity nurse, as she was spotted following closely behind Phyre.


Kenge catches a vulture

9 07 2011

The Ngamo pride seem to be slowing down from their recent killing spree and have spent a lot of time over the past couple of days resting and digesting all that zebra meat they have consumed over the past few days.

The pride have mainly been located in the Tree Tops area and seem to be making the most of the cool weather with lots of play sessions between the majority of the lionesses.

As the team entered the site on the morning of the 9th July we found the pride resting along the boundary road in Etosha.  Nala, Narnia and AT1 were resting on top of a mound peacefully keeping look out over the release site. Of course peace doesn’t last long with AT1 around and she was soon encouraging them to join in her playful antics.

Once playtime was over the pride proceeded to move to Serengeti West where they discovered a zebra carcass being feasted on by vultures. It looked like the zebra had died of natural causes but the lionesses were more interested in the vultures than the carcass, playfully chasing them away. Kenge seemed to surprise herself when she managed to actually catch one but luckily for the vulture she let go pretty quickly.

After the excitement of chasing vultures it was then back to what lions do best; resting and grooming for the remainder of the morning.

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