Over the past couple of weeks, the research team have noticed some slight behavioural and physical developments among the younger members of the Ngamo pride, most notably AS4 and AS5. These playful siblings have been extremely close since birth, and the closeness of this relationship resulted in AS4 spending less time interacting with her half-sisters. The social bond between AT1, KE3, KE4 and AS4 is undoubtedly of great interest to the research team, as it is these four females that are intended for release together as a socially stable pride into the wild.
AS5 and AS4 at play, captured by photography volunteer Samuel Cox
Over the past year, the relationship between AS4 and her three half-sisters has frequently been one of intimidation; often teaming up with AS5 in bouts of ‘bullying’ and chasing after them, resulting in the pursued female being apprehensive to return to rest among their pride members. On the morning of the 5th of May, the pride were welcoming the day by resting together in the ‘Masai Mara’ area of the site. As the team arrived, they were pleasantly surprised to find AS4 sitting nicely with KE4 and AT1. Of greater significance however is the increase in social interactions that has been noted between AS4 and the other girls and, although these head rubs may not be a daily occurrence just yet, the research team are undeniably excited that AS4’s relationship with her sisters is showing signs that it is developing in the right direction, just as they hoped it would.
Keeping it in the family, from left to right: AS4, KE4 and AT1
A little more obvious however is the development of AS5. For a while now the young blonde male has been sporting darkening elbow tufts. More recently his blonde chest hair began to transform from blonde to a light greyish-brown and now into a deeper brown, that is gradually creeping up his chest.
The manes of the males in Ngamo are assessed each month. Mane assessment can provide information on age, dominance, and health. And whilst Milo’s mane does not change much at all from month to month, the team expected that changes in his son’s mane would be a little more noticeable. What they didn’t expect however was to have to second guess themselves on identification of the males. With a little while to go until AS5 reaches adulthood, and with the perfect role model of a father, the research team envisage AS5 is going to be quite a magnificent adult male and they look forward to observing and sharing his, and his siblings’, journey towards release into the wild; if they can tell him apart from Milo!
His father's son, AS5
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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