In some parts of the world including Zimbabwe, the 18th of June was celebrated as Father’s Day, and in the Ngamo release site a certain father was getting his share of attention too. The research team arrived into the site in the morning to find AS5 alone near the boundary of ‘Amboseli’. Just as they were deciding whether to settle into position or move off in search of the rest of the pride, the team spotted Milo who was also making his arrival to AS5, and so they decided to stay and observe the two males for a little while. As Milo majestically strolled towards the area, AS5 moved into the long grass nearby. He crouched down and, looking quite menacing, got ready to charge at his unsuspecting father. The team looked on in anticipation, and admittedly also a little nervous. Had AS5 begun challenging his father? Was this an early indication that Milo’s reign as dominant male may slowly be coming to an end? Of course it wasn’t, not yet at least. It was simply AS5 playing the fool and the research team relaxed as he went running out of the grass in play, causing a surprised Milo to jump sideways! The team laughed amongst themselves and, as AS5 finished off the episode by gracing Milo with a bonding head rub, they left the two males resting together and went in search of the rest of the pride. What better way to spend a Father’s Day than with your number one companion?
A couple of days later on the 20th, the pride was spending their morning lazing around the ‘Camp’ area of the site. Most of the pride were lying flat out and dozing in the morning sun, but something was attracting KE4’s attention. A Southern white-crowned shrike was busy foraging on the ground and it was hopping on and off a nearby anthill, undeterred by KE4’s gaze. KE4 watched the bird keenly for a few minutes, her head bobbing up and down in time with its movements, but unfortunately this bird watching was to be short lived. AT1, well-known for chasing the feathered kind, had now also noticed the bird and she rushed from behind KE4 towards the anthill causing the shrike to flee into the air. With the bird watching activity brought to an end, the two females took rest among their pride mates and joined them in a morning snooze.
The following day, the temperature had dropped significantly and a crisp white frost lay on the ground. The research team encountered a playful pride as they arrived in ‘Masai Mara’ that morning with Ashanti prancing through the grass as the team took their position to collect data. There were bursts of play one after the other; Phyre played with Ashanti, AT1 played with Nala, and even Milo played with AS5! Meanwhile, AS4 was engaged in playing with a nearby tree. She jumped and tugged and chewed on the branches until she finally broke a bough free and fell to the ground amongst the foliage. It seems as though the lions had the right idea on how to warm themselves up that cold winter morning.
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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