On the morning of the 15th February, the Ngamo pride was already settled and resting in the ‘Amboseli’ area of the site when the research team arrived for their first session of the day. The females were all resting in close proximity to each other, while Milo and AS5 were resting together a little further away.
It’s a pattern that is becoming increasingly common these days, now that AS5 is in his prime and his behaviour has become more typical of a lion his age. Spending the majority of his time with his fellow male, he’s less of the oversized playmate he used to be, and is now a lion that has upped his territoriality and who is responsible for initiating the majority of the roaring within the pride. Yet, while his brawn allows him to lay claim of the lion’s share at mealtimes, trying to gain dominance over the females is something AS5 is yet to achieve.
It’s not to say that AS5 never receives any social gestures from the females, because he does, from time to time. Kenge, Nala and Kwali have all been observed gracing him with a head rub, and even Phyre did it once. But the occurrences of this are nothing compared to the amount of fuss Milo receives when he passes by the lionesses in the pride.
The bond between AS5 and his littermate AS4 has been consistently close since they were born but, interestingly, it’s AT1 who now also seems to be getting her share of AS5’s attention. He’ll regularly sit near her and will sniff at her rear; a behaviour that is common when greeting. But sometimes AS5’s interest in her seems to be a little too much for AT1 and she will occasionally bat him away or swipe at him with her paw, just like she did on the morning of the 15th. With her ears back and her body posture hostile, AT1 kept AS5 at a distance; and from the look on AS5’s face he knew very well to do just that. And so whilst the research team would like to see the ‘Prince’ receive a little reverence from the females, AT1’s ‘sassiness’ shows promise that the days of her being intimidated by the male are gradually coming to an end.
It will be the natural order of things that AS5’s time as the King of Ngamo may one day come but for now at least, he is still waiting in line for the throne.
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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