Dead Giveaway
September 19 2017

Mid-morning on the 6th September and the Ngamo pride were resting in the recently burnt area of ‘Serengeti East’, all blissfully unaware that a carcass was awaiting discovery in a shaded area of ‘Masai Mara’.  It was a warm day and the research team anticipated that the pride might remain resting until around sunset, when the temperatures would be more comfortable for investigating their territory.  But the pride was about to get a little help with locating a meal…

It was around 1pm when KE3 rose to her paws and headed into the long grass nearby.  The rest of the females slowly began to follow her, but they remained loitering around in the grass.  With very little wind, the research team doubted they had caught scent of the carcass and so wondered what stimulus had caused this response from KE3.  Moments later, Milo was on the move, appearing much more purposeful in his departure from the group.  The research team cast their eyes all around, their ears listening carefully for anything that might have instigated such a reaction, and then they looked up into the sky.  The sky was a mass of vultures, all hovering above the concealed carcass; a dead giveaway that a potential meal was there for the taking!

The research team quickly turned on their engine and began to follow Milo, who soon joined the rest of the pride behind Waterhole One to continue their patrol through ‘Masai Mara’ together.  Chaotically, they ran in different directions looking for the source of the vultures’ interest.  They were close, but were still to discover the carcass.  But, when the vultures began to descend upon the meat, this was the signal the lions needed and Nala bolted towards the birds with the rest of the pride hot on her tail.  The usual feeding frenzy ensued with Milo emerging triumphantly clutching a large chunk of meat and, taking no chances of being disturbed, he promptly headed towards ‘Amboseli’ to dine in peace.  Meanwhile, AS5 and the females squabbled until they all managed to secure themselves a position at the carcass, or escape with a piece of their own.  And as for the displaced vultures, they had no option but to bide their time until the pride had had their fill.  

KE3 claims her share of the carcass (photo credit: Anna Carroll)

As the evening drew in, Milo remained tucked away in a thicket feeding, whilst the females ended their day with a trip to the waterhole together, and that is where the research team left them as the sun began to set. 

The following day was understandably quiet as the pride sprawled in the sun with satisfied bellies.  It wasn’t until early evening that anyone began to stir and the grooming rituals began.  KE3 took a good long stretch, Kenge and Kwali spent a while cleaning each other’s head and neck, Milo nuzzled against his favourite Ngamo pride member, AS5, and the team closed their notebooks marking the end of another day of research.

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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