Meet Kela
May 7 2015

Kela was a member of the 2KL walking group during her time in Stage One at Lion Encounter Zambia. As a cub, Kela was playful and boisterous but also exhibited a nurturing, maternal role within her pride from a young age. With Kela there, the 2KL walks were always lively and in the last few months of her time in Stage One, Kela and her sisters would regularly seek out buffalo herds. On one occasion, Kela magnificently managed to bring down a buffalo calf, however she failed to make her first kill as the buffalo calf’s cries drew the rest of the herd back to chase the young lions away.

With her charismatic nature fulfilling such an integral role within the group, there was never any doubt that Kela would form part of the Dambwa pride. It was in August 2011 that, along with her sister Kwandi, and her half-sisters, Rusha, Leya and Loma, Kela was released into Stage Two at the age of three years old.

Kela has always shared an exceptionally close relationship with her sister and her half-sisters and due to her social, easy-going nature she is also a favourite aunt with Rusha and Leya’s offspring. Whether it is playing with them or grooming them, Kela is frequently surrounded by the younger pride members and is regularly left to look after them while the mothers tend to other matters.

However, the pride’s valuable mother figure hasn’t been without her share of obstacles. In September 2013, Kela left the pride after having mated with the pride male, Zulu, earlier that year. For the first few weeks, it was an exciting time as everything seemed to be going smoothly with Kela spending the majority of her time in her den site, whilst periodically returning to the pride to feed. However, a little while later, she stopped visiting her den site. As we tend to leave denning mothers alone as much as possible, it was impossible to know precisely when the abandonment of her cubs took place or what the possible reason for this was-  whether she had indeed left them, or whether they had failed to thrive for some reason.

The Dambwa pride will not see new cubs again for a while, as with six cubs now in the pride, we have taken the step to control breeding within the site for the foreseeable future. All lionesses of breeding age, including Kela, have safe contraceptive implants until such time that the current cubs have grown up and have been released into their latter stages of the programme.

Today, Kela is a relatively decent hunter but primarily seems to take a supporting role to the pride’s main hunters, Leya and Kwandi- rushing in after the catch to lend her weight. While she might not be afraid to work hard when it is necessary, Kela can be fantastically lazy too. Lions are known for their long periods of inactivity, but Kela certainly stands out on this point- often sleeping through the activity as the rest of the pride patrols the site, or if she does join them, she usually takes several rest stops along the way.

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