Age is just a number
June 26 2017

Being an adult does not mean you have to act like it!  The cooler weather has brought out the playful side of some of the Dambwa pride adults, showing the sub-adults that age is just a number.

As winter is upon us, the early mornings of the past couple of weeks have left the research team shivering and reaching for extra jackets and blankets.  While some animals may huddle together to conserve heat and energy, the Dambwa pride have adopted a more physical way of staying warm.  Over recent months, the research team have normally observed the sub-adults to be at the forefront of play behaviour, however, on the 10th of June, Kela and Loma decided that it was their turn.  Upon locating the pride in one of their favoured areas in the Sibaka region of the release site, the two lionesses were found standing in the long grass while the rest of the pride was stretched out in the rising sun.  They watched the car approach before, all of the sudden, Kela jumped into the air and started running in circles around Loma.  Loma appeared a little confused at first, before deciding that the best action was to chase Kela.  This rumbustious pair brought their play activity close to the car at one point, resulting in a comical photo of Kela, as she ran past the research team.  While she sought shelter behind a small bush, which barely covered her face, Loma crouched in the long grass. Then, as Kela was distracted watching a couple of hooded vultures fly past, Loma took her chance, racing out of the grass.  This momentum was short-lived however, as Loma stopped her approach when Kela quickly turned to face her.  

A comical moment as Kela races past the research vehicle

Loma poised to make her move on Kela

While the lionesses were playing, Zulu stood watching from a distance.  Having her attack on Kela fail, Loma turned her attention to the pride male instead, racing over to greet him.  Zulu appeared to enjoy this attention, until Loma ankle tapped him and he ignored her attempt to play.  

Her attack on Kela thwarted, Loma attempts unsuccessfully to get Zulu to play

Loma then selected a resting position in the sun, settling down for some well-deserved time out by herself. However, Kela appeared to have other ideas!  She approached Loma, attempting to get her to engage in some more play behaviour.  Loma’s playful mood seemed to have evaporated, as she quickly made it clear to Kela that she was no longer interested.  Kela got the message and soon returned to the rest of the pride, before flopping down to rest.  While these behaviours can be brief and infrequent, being able to witness the pride, particularly the adults, participate in these types of interactions is truly magical!

Kela is still in the mood for fun...

But Loma has other ideas

About the Dambwa Lion Release Site

The 6 adults (1 male and 5 females) of the ‘Dambwa Pride’ were captive born and released into the ‘Dambwa Lion Release Site’ in 2011, 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 6 offspring (3 male and 3 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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