A Surprise and a Goodbye
June 15 2016

By the first day of June, winter was certainly making its presence felt; the warm mornings were fast becoming a distant memory.  In the Ngamo release site a fine silvery mist rose in a stream of early morning sunlight, licking at the long grass; the silhouette of pride male Milo in the haze was a breath-taking sight.  The sunrise gradually began to clear the mist and Milo became more visible beneath the tree he was sitting under.  The air was still cool and, as he let out a roar, his warm breath visibly met the cold air, whilst his call could be heard for miles around. 

On the afternoon of the 3rd, the research team encountered the pride wandering around the ‘Camp’ area of the site.  The team followed the lions as they meandered through the grass, but it wasn’t until they reached ‘Amboseli’ that their pace began to quicken and things got quite exciting.  The pride had come across a dead impala and they quickly descended upon their surprise discovery.  Snatching what little they could from such a small meal, the rush sent flurries of dust clouds into the air.  Of course, some pride members were more fortunate than others.  Among the fortunate ones was low-ranking Nala and the team were thrilled to see her do so well.  However, someone had their sight set on Nala’s tasty looking prize.  It was AS5 and he wasn’t about to let her enjoy it.   

After finishing off the morsel he had managed to gain for himself, he turned his attention to Nala, but a large male lion like AS5 is hard to miss and the quick-witted female spotted him making a beeline for her.  Quickly, she grabbed her piece of meat between her jaws and trotted away from him, settling down to feed in peace once more.  Undeterred, AS5 continued on his mission but, to the delight of the research team, she continued to give him the run-around until there was hardly enough meat left worth stealing.  Now of course, the research team don’t have favourites among the pride, but on this occasion…go Nala!

Over the next few days, the pride spent the majority of their time resting in favourite ‘Amboseli’, but by the 8th the lions were ready for a change of scenery.  Or were they?  They spent the morning wandering back and forth between ‘Amboseli’ and  ‘Masai Mara’, failing to settle for very long in either place.  Along the way in ‘Masai Mara’ something must have caught the attention of AS4 and she detoured from the group to investigate further.  The research team were baffled as to what was causing the fuss and after a couple of pounces into the grass, AS4 emerged, unsuccessful.  Whatever it was had evaded her and she cast her gaze towards the rest of the pride in ‘Amboseli’.  She made her way back to join them, returning just in time to receive a licking session from big brother AS5 before they all spent the rest of the day lazing.  That morning walk was clearly enough activity for the pride for one day!

Regular readers of our updates will be aware of our decision to euthanise Narnia, sister to Nala and a founder member of the Ngamo pride.  The full report of Narnia’s condition and how this decision was reached can be read here.  Following euthanasia, her body was cremated.  The research team thought it fitting that Narnia’s final resting place should be among the pride, and so, on the 4th of June the team selected a memorable place within the release site.  As they bid their final goodbyes, the team thanked her for the special contribution she made to the Ngamo pride and the release programme.  Her ashes were scattered at the anthill beside ‘Milo’s tree’, and a commemorative stone was placed in her name.  Whilst the moment brought sadness, it brought comfort too; comfort to know that Narnia is now in peace and that there will always be a part of her in Ngamo.


About the Ngamo Lion Release Site

The 6 adults (1 male and 5 females) of the ‘Ngamo Pride’ were captive born and released into the ‘Ngamo Lion Release Site’ in 2010, having been walked in the rehabilitation phase of the ex situ conservation project, the African Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Programme.  The pride’s 5 offspring (1 male and 4 females) were born in the site and have had no human contact, display natural behaviours, and are intended for release into the wild in the final phase of the Programme.

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