Sorry Sir a Lion Ate My Homework
December 7 2014

If ever there was an award-winning excuse for not handing in your fieldwork then the events that took place on the 26th of November would certainly be among the nominations.  The day began with the research team locating the lions quite quickly; resting together in Masai Mara.  It was a hot day and the pride spent the duration there, scattered about in whatever shade they could find.   By late afternoon the wind had picked up and it offered welcome relief to the pride from the warm still air.  The team were also making the most of the breeze and once they had made a note of the position of the lions they relaxed back to continue observing.  All of a sudden a huge gust of wind blew through the research vehicle, catching one of the data sheets and carrying it out of the window.  Poof! it was gone, right into the lions den.  The pride looked on as the paper settled to the ground and KE3 and AS4 began to approach, curious of the unfamiliar object. 

AS4 & KE3

KE3 appeared wary as she neared the research vehicle, a promising indication of avoidance behaviour in situations she is not familiar with.  However AS4, who has always been a little feistier took the plunge and crept slowly towards the vehicle to snatch the paper in her mouth.  Quickly she retreated back to the group where AS5 joined her in investigating her unusual find.  The whole affair provided much laughter for the volunteers but the research team, as funny as they thought it was, had no choice but to watch their day’s work disappear in a flash. 

AS5 & AS4

The next day the team located the pride wandering through Amboseli towards Camp.   Once they had taken rest in Camp they remained there all day with little activity, but as the sun began to set AT1 rose from her slumber and the pride began to follow her as she strolled towards Etosha.

On arrival into the site on the morning of the 29th the team were met by the pride in full chorus, roaring.   It was still relatively early when Nala decided to leave and she wandered away from the pride as they continued to rest.  She was only away for just under an hour when the team noticed her making her return through the grass.  AS4 was watchful of Nala approaching and she began to stalk towards her.  Lions are known to interpret body language and it can play an important part in recognising intruders to their pride.   For example, a lioness that approaches with caution may well be deemed a stranger, whereas a lioness that approaches with confidence and is relaxed is more likely to be interpreted as a non-threat and in turn greeted and welcomed.  This display from AS4 was exciting to see as it demonstrates her instinct to be wary of intruders.  On this occasion though AS4 had nothing to worry about and once she realised it was Nala approaching she relaxed her shoulder blades and her demeanour changed.  As Nala arrived back among the pride she greeted KE3 and the pride rested together for the rest of the morning. 

The 30th was a cool overcast day and it began with Ashanti, Nala, AT1 and KE3 all resting on High Street in the Kruger area of the site.  By late morning the whole pride, aside from Phyre and Milo, were re-visiting the remains of a previous day’s meal in Hwange.  Although there wasn’t much left AS5 and KE4 were still having a good go at feeding and as the pride headed off towards the waterhole KE4 remained hidden in the grass with the sound of crunching bones the only thing giving her whereabouts away.  Meanwhile AS5 had discovered a healthy size portion that had gone unnoticed.  He promptly took the piece in his mouth and carried it around 80m to the shade of a tree where he could enjoy it in private, a trait he has obviously learnt from dad, Milo.  



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