Fun and games
May 25 2017

The month of May has shown the research team that the sub-adults of the pride have growing independence from the adults and that the bonds between brothers are getting stronger.  One morning at the beginning of the month, sub-adult males RS2 and LE1 were seen to be in sync.  Getting up to move to a new sleeping position, the young males greeted each other before falling into a rhythm and approaching their new sleeping position together.

On the 19th of this month, the two litters of the sub-adults were found to be in two separate groups and away from the adults.  The research team first found LE1, LE2 and LE3 along a road close to the location of a scavenge dropped for the pride a couple of days previously.  The cool air of the early morning provided ideal conditions for the playful side of these sub-adults to shine, with each taking it in turns to stalk and chase each other.  After becoming exhausted after a few minutes, the sub-adults selected positions on the road to rest. This was short lived as they soon decided to get up and walk off to search for the adults.  LE1 moved off first, followed by LE2 and LE3, however, LE2 soon took the lead and left the males to slowly make their way along behind her. 

LE1 and RS2

The research team followed at a distance and when the lions made a turn down a road towards water pan 3, the research team decided to take a short cut to another favourite area of the pride, hoping the locate the rest of the pride.  Once the team arrived, telemetry signals for the adults were weak, however, the research team found RS1, RS2 and RS3 resting in the area.  These sub-adults were also alert and before long, were busy chasing each other in front of the research vehicle.  RS2 appeared to be in a particularly playful mood, chasing his sisters, and once they tired of his antics, turned his attention to a log.  RS2 stalked, pounced and then proceeded to roll on the log, attracting the attention of RS1.  Seeing his sister approach and intending to join in the fun, RS2 quickly got up and ran away with the log in his mouth.  Undeterred, RS1 quickly followed him and tried to grab the other end of the log, initiating a short game of tug-a-war.  Due to his sheer size and power, RS2 easily won and ran for the safety of the long grass, closely followed by RS1.  RS3 watched this at a distance, and when the game seemed to have calmed in the long grass, she decided to get up and cautiously approach.  Before she was able to reach the location of her siblings, RS1 came bursting out of the grass to pounce on RS3, which quickly turned into a game of chase.  This playful behaviour of within both groups of sub-adults shows how strong the bonds between siblings are, and although they are fast approaching adulthood, they certainly do have playful spirits! 

Playful RS2 turns his attention to a log

RS1 decides to join in the fun

RS2 regains his toy

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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