As a typical pride male, Milo has had little to worry about since his release as regards sourcing food. With a large pride of more than capable lions to support him this 10 year old can focus his attentions on other male lion matters.
In 2011 the research team were fortunate enough to witness a fantastic zebra kill by Milo with the help of lioness Kenge. Two years on however and the only interaction between the male and the resident prey population that we have seen was an embarrassing incident involving Milo fleeing from a big-horned ram impala that was being ambushed towards him by the pride females…
On the 1st of November a zebra kill reaffirmed Milo’s reputation as the fearless Ngamo leader.
The myth that male lions never partake in hunts is based on the idea that they steal food from their pride females, and from other species, such as hyena and cheetah. However, male lions are forced to become self sufficient during their ‘nomadic phase’. After leaving their natal pride young males are reliant on their own hunting prowess, or the skill of other males in their coalition. Once they become a reigning pride male, lions can sustain themselves by chasing subordinate females off their successful kills. But, males will get involved in hunts when their strength and weight is required, such as with larger prey like buffalo or elephants. Also, males will often leave the pride females for weeks at a time to patrol their territorial boundaries, and will often kill during this time.
Regardless of size, age and gender, a cat is still a cat, and the predatory instinct to chase something moving is a ‘fixed action pattern’. This term describes animal behavior that is triggered by instinct and is followed by basic rigid actions – chase, catch and kill. Having spotted a fleeing zebra Milo launched his chase, brought down the animal and inflicted a fatal throat hold, just as any cat would.
The lesson learnt here is no matter how dormant or lazy a lion may appear it is worth noting that this animal has a primordial instinct that will transform a sleepy cat into an apex predator in one swift action.