The Times They Are a-Changing
October 5 2017

There a few signs in the Ngamo release site that spring is here, but perhaps one of the most outstanding are the bright scarlet flowers of the lucky bean tree.  Erythrina lysistemon blooms from August to September marking the change of season and a signal for people to plant their crops.  But it’s not just the seasons that are changing, some relationships within the pride seem to be blossoming too. 

The initiation of social gestures between females is frequent and is fundamental in establishing and maintaining life long bonds.  Gestures such as head rubbing and licking go far in reaffirming these bonds and, to date, the relationships between pride members has been stable.


KE3 licking Kwali

However, until recently, AS4 had not been considered to be that closely connected to her half-sisters, AT1, KE3 and KE4 and, given that it is these four females that are proposed for life together in the wild, the research team has been observing the four closely. 

For a long time AS4 was never too far from her brother AS5.  The duo would rest together, play together, and they would even team up in trying to intimidate their siblings.  But now AS4’s bullying and intimidation of KE3 and KE4 has transformed into resting beside them, and her interactions with AT1 are becoming more regular; something that was hardly ever observed between the two.  She is also spending a lot more of her time with Nala, a lioness that is recognised as playing an important role in the development of the youngsters in Ngamo.   

AT1 and AS4 resting together

Now both adults, AS4 and AS5 are less dependent on each other.  AS5 is beginning to behave like a male approaching his prime and spends the majority of his time in the company of dad Milo, whilst AS4 seems to be becoming ‘one of the girls’. 

Milo and AS5 patrolling their territory

It’s all part of growing up.  Still, on the 28th of the month, AS4 and AS5 confirmed that we haven’t seen the end of their play bouts just yet. 

AS4 and AS5 playing

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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