As the sun rose on the morning of 11th May, the research team were about to make their usual entry into the release site through Ngamo Road gate when they were quickly stopped in their tracks. KE3 was visible not 30 metres away and she had something clenched between her jaws. It was a fresh impala kill! and she quickly sloped off into the grass out of view from the research team with her claimed carrion. The team were now excited to get into the site and they quickly about-turned and accessed Ngamo through an alternative gate. By the time they reached the Masai Mara area, KE3 was nowhere to be seen, likely somewhere low in the long grass enjoying her breakfast, and so the team headed off along the boundary towards ‘Serengeti West’ in an effort to find out more about the kill.
Over the preceding days the impala herd had been recorded spending their time in an area of short grass in ‘Masai Mara’; not surprising, as short grass provides greater visibility and a quick escape from predators who need a good amount of cover to ambush their prey. The team suspected that the chase that morning had most likely begun in ‘Masai Mara’ with the pursuit heading down towards the corner of ‘Serengeti West’ and so this is where they decided to investigate further.
As the team travelled slowly along the road, they were soon met by AS5 and the rest of the pride who were all heading back towards ‘Masai Mara’, some with clean faces and some with noticeably blood-stained fur. The team continued on past the parading pride and when they reached ‘Serengeti West’ they came across a lone Kwali with her nose to the ground searching for any remaining morsel, however sadly for her the only sign of an impala kill was now just the contents of the stomach.
Unfortunately that’s how it goes with kills of smaller prey species, there’s never enough to go around 11 lions; and even though you may have co-operated in the hunt, or have been there right at the moment of capture and quickly claimed your share, any late arrivals will undoubtedly miss out. The blood-stained faces of Nala, AT1 and KE3 were a tell-tale sign that led the team to believe it was they who had been successful that morning, not too surprising as these girls together make a formidable hunting trio.
After recording positional data on the mornings kill, the team returned to ‘Masai Mara’ where the pride had now taken rest after all the excitement. KE3 eventually made her reappearance about half an hour later and the pride spent the remainder of their day together engrossed in occasional grooming sessions and lazing in the dappled shade of the trees.
Resting after the excitement
Phyre and AT1 grooming each other
KE3 rejoins the pride
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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