Predictably Unpredictable
March 7 2016

On the morning of the 16th of February, the Ngamo pride were found resting together in the Masai Mara area of the release site.  By the afternoon they had all relocated to the shadier Camp area, most likely in an effort to gain a little relief from the blazing sun.  Whilst the pride blissfully enjoyed the cooler temperatures, the research team were coordinating the concealment of a scavenge opportunity in the Treetops area at the far side of the site.  As expected, the pride traversed their territory during the night and discovered the carcass, and by the following morning the females and AS5 were resting back in Amboseli, all sporting full bellies.  Unsurprisingly Milo was not present, most likely still in a secluded area of Treetops with his claimed share of the meat. 

AS5 and the girls spent the whole day sleeping off their meal until late evening when KE3 began to move off, duly followed by the rest of the pride.  They began an impressive procession along the boundary and by the time the lions reached Kruger, the team had predicted they were all on their way for a second sitting in Treetops.  One by one, the lions began to leave the road and took their route into the thickets.  At this time of year the vegetation in the areas of Kruger and Treetops is dense and therefore too thick for the research vehicle to access.  Not to worry, the team were sure they knew where to find the pride, and so they continued by road towards the scavenge area. 

Once at the remains, the team switched off their engine and sat waiting for the pride to filter through the thickets. And they sat… and they sat… and whilst the vultures soared above the area not a single lion came into sight.  The pride had disappeared!  Feeling ever so slightly foolish, the research team switched on their engine and as they left the release site for the day they reminded themselves of the one thing they should have predicted; lions are unpredictable! 

Not a lion in sight!

On the 20th, the pride was spending the day resting in Amboseli.  Kenge and her pride mates were all contentedly soaking up the morning rays, or rather she was, until AS5 began to stir and explore his surroundings.  He rose to his paws and sniffed about at the ground.  Walking and sniffing as he went he soon came across Kenge, and she was no exception to his inquiring nose.  He sniffed at her rear, a perfectly normal way of identifying one of your pride members, but Kenge was clearly not in the mood for such an invasion of her personal space.  She quickly turned on AS5, who was visibly startled by the wrath of Kenge, and she slapped him away and bared her teeth, putting the young male towering over her promptly in his place. 

Kenge puts AS5 in his place

A couple of days later the pride was again relaxing in the Masai Mara area when a flock of guinea fowl caught the attention of AT1 and she slowly crept towards them.  Phyre was soon interested in AT1’s activity and she too began to approach, drawing the rest of the females and AS5 with her.  By this time AT1 had disappeared into the long grass but the guinea fowl could be heard vocalising at the presence of the big cat.  Eventually AT1 emerged from the grass and as the pride began to wander through the area she, perhaps still enthused from a potential hunt, began to leap into trees along the way.  AT1’s antics were too much for AS4 to ignore and within minutes she was emulating her half-sister and also springing up a tree.  What a copy-cat!  

AS4 being a copy-cat!

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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