Keep Away From Phyre
May 27 2016

After a lengthy drive around the release site on the morning of the 17th of May, the research team finally found two members of the Ngamo pride, KE3 and AT1, together in the area known as Leopard Tree.  The two lionesses gradually meandered away towards the boundary where they met up with a lone KE4.  As the trio headed along the road together towards the Kruger area of the site, they met up with fellow siblings AS4 and AS5.  Unfortunately AS5 didn’t appear to be a welcome sight for KE4 and she retreated when she saw the young male, her behaviour suspected to be the result of a recent bout of boisterousness from her half-brother.   As it turned out KE4 had the right idea, because no sooner had she turned to walk away than AS5 chased after KE3 and the pair ran along the road leaving AT1 and AS4 to catch up.  By the time KE3, AS5, AT1 and AS4 reached ‘Etosha’, they had reunited with the rest of the pride and they all strolled together in succession before taking rest in the Camp area of the site. 

AS4 and AS5 however had different ideas and they continued to make a nuisance of themselves whilst their pride mates soaked up the warming morning sun.  This time it was Phyre they decided to harass.  But she was absolutely the wrong lioness to pick on.  As the siblings stood over Phyre intimidatingly, she crouched and bared her teeth to warn them away.  Milo was witness to all of this and he wasn’t about to let his favourite feline be the victim of the two troublemakers.  He rose to his paws and walked towards Phyre to come to her aid.  His presence quickly deterred AS4 and AS5 and as the pride male took rest beside Phyre, the pair backed away.  Milo remained close to the alpha female each time she moved and, despite her growling her displeasure at his overbearing behaviour, he sat beside her anyway making sure his favoured female wasn’t the target for the youngsters again. 

The calm before the storm

Milo keeping watch over his favourite feline 

By mid-afternoon most of the pride had relocated to ‘Amboseli’, whilst AS4 was taking a little time by herself in ‘Masai Mara’.  She was clearly visible from Amboseli and one pride member in particular seemed to be acutely aware of her whereabouts, AS5.  The young male spent the duration of the afternoon regularly gazing over at his sister until finally he decided to join her and, followed by Milo, he wandered over to her and the three of them sat together as the daylight faded. 

The next morning the pride remained in ‘Amboseli’, but by the afternoon the group had divided and just Ashanti, Kwali, Kenge and the two males were the only ones still snoozing.  There was very little activity until Kwali left to visit the waterhole and, while she was gone, Kenge began to make soft contact calls.  The vocalisations continued intermittently for a few minutes before eventually the low calls grew to a full roar that resonated across the release site.  As well as advertising one’s presence roaring serves as a way of communicating to pride members should one or more become separated.  Kenge’s attempts at a reunion were hugely successful.  It wasn’t long before Kwali came into view returning from the waterhole and Phyre led Nala, AT1, KE3, KE4 and AS4 along Route 66 until they all took rest together along the road as the sun set on another day. 

Kenge about to initiate a reunion

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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