On 12th February, the lions had made life a little easier for us than they had the previous week and selected an area of relatively short and flattened grass in which to congregate first thing that morning. This allowed us the first decent-ish view of many of them since research resumed at the end of January.
The only lions we couldn’t see initially were Zulu and Loma. Zulu, however, made his entrance relatively soon after us; marching over from a bank of towering grass towards the group. As ever, this was a huge source of excitement for the younger pride members. As the RS girls and LE boys ran over to greet him, one of Zulu’s adoring offspring continues to be not as adoring these days. At the start of February, Zulu and RS2 had a bit of a run in; and while it would be an exaggeration to say that things have been tense since then, there has definitely an air of wariness towards Zulu these days from RS2. The young male remained rooted to the spot eyeing his father from a safe distance and hunkered low to the ground.
While RS2’s normally boisterous nature seems to have taken a bit of a beating of late, he can take solace in the fact that he is not the only RS to have felt the sharp end of someone’s temper. His sister, RS3, was sporting a nasty-looking cut to her neck that morning; probably about 10cm in length. On closer inspection (as close as it can be from the confines of the vehicle)- it seemed superficial, more a case of missing fur than an actual break in the skin, and it appears she with the help of others is keeping the area clean. There was no indication as to the identity of the culprit, as there did not seem to be any evidence of tension between her and anyone else in the pride. However, one thing is for certain: at almost 20-months old, the RSs are rapidly losing any special treatment they may once have enjoyed and even the protection of Rusha seems to be something on the wane for the fledgling lions.
The 14th was again quiet, with most of the adults resting in the tall grass of Puku Dambo, primarily out of our sight. The majority of cubs however, all except RS3, were in plain view. It was the three male cubs who dominated our attention that morning (RS2, LE1 and LE3). While their sisters slept on, the little band of brothers’ attention was rapt by a flock of guinea fowl trying to noisily bypass the pride and access water pan 3.
It has been interesting to watch as the cubs establish their identity within the pride; up until now, none of their positions have solidified- as is expected. We look forward to seeing the cubs develop themselves and their social standings within the next few months.