Whilst the pride has thrived over April and May, it’s been some rather lean times for us with a never-ending series of mechanical problems with the research vehicle over recent weeks. A brief trip into the site was possible on the 8th May (before another breakdown). That morning however we discovered all 13 members of the pride in rude health at Pan 3.
Zulu with the RS and LE cubs
Luckily those few brief hours on the 8th were pretty fantastic with our initial view of the group being predominantly Zulu, surrounded by his young posse of RS and LE offspring. Having not seen the lions for some weeks at this point, it was immediately obvious how much all six of the cubs had grown. But perhaps first prize for most impressive of growth spurts goes to young RS2, who is looking every inch as handsome as his father these days.
Young man about town; RS2
Whilst the adults worked hard on getting some shut eye over the morning in the shade around the pan, the cubs were full of beans. It’s clear that despite a bit of a fraught introduction to one another in late March, the two litters are now firm friends and mingled and played together all morning long. The lone female in Leya’s litter, LE2, has now found comfort in her older sisters, RS1 and RS3. And despite there still being plenty of playful biting and paw slapping the young female seems to know her future lies with the RS girls.
RS3 gives LE2 a bit of pampering
Boys' club: LE3 and RS2
All the 1s: RS1 and LE1
Later in the morning, Leya emerged briefly from her resting location to follow the shade around the pan and find a new spot to lay down. Looking beyond tired, she staggered a few metres and this was all the invitation the LE cubs needed to get their morning milk.
Leya: Under siege
After another break in proceedings we next were able to get in the site on the morning of the 17th May. Apparently, the pride hadn’t moved over the last 10 days and was again at Pan 3! The size of their bellies in fact did suggest that they had moved over this time, and had once more returned to the water pan to wash down their most recent feast.
The cubs once more took centre stage, whilst the adults were more inclined to sleep through the creeping winter chill which is now starting to permeate the morning air. Zulu was allowed no such luxury however, and no matter where he tried to sleep one, or more, of his fan club would amble over and clamber all over him or luxuriate in an overly forceful greeting - or in RS3’s case, try and put him in a head lock.
Every inch her mother's daughter: RS3 pratices a move on Zulu that previously only Rusha was ever granted permission to perform
Twenty-four hours later and the pride had moved a staggering 50m further West into Puku Dambo. Leya and the other pride elders finally got their wish of a bit of shut eye as by now even the cubs’ batteries were starting to run low.
Leya finally finds LE3's off button