While the Cat is Away
November 20 2017

Having the perfect role model in dad Milo, AS5 is now realising the perks of being a male, and a large one at that, and is taking advantage of his size at every mealtime.  It’s usually Nala that bears the brunt of his behaviour, but on the 8th of November, she got a little help from a friend. 

The pride was feeding near ‘Grasslands’ late afternoon and Nala was eagerly tucking into a prime piece of the carcass when AS5 spotted her.  Leaving the meat he was already feeding on, he began to draw near.  Whether it was coincidence, or a decision to assist her lower ranking companion, AT1 approached AS5 and, while he paused with his tail in the air unsure of her advances, she tapped him on the nose with her paw and sniffed him before skipping past.  This diversion tactic was successful and, instead of seizing Nala’s meat, AS5 stood looking a little stunned for a moment, before he about-turned and headed back to AS4 where he fed without being challenged. 

AT1 causes a distraction...

...leaving AS5 somewhat stunned

AS5 is now entering his prime.  While the females of the pride are not quite ready to accept him as their dominant male - the title Milo has secured - AS5’s status does have an effect on some the younger females.  His history of intimidation towards KE3 and KE4 now has the girls wary of him and, while he displays no overly aggressive behaviour towards them, he can still be a bit of a nuisance by chasing after them from time to time.  So on the afternoon of the 12th when the team went in search of the pride, they were a little surprised to find just Kwali, KE3 and KE4 together in ‘Serengeti West’.  It was unusual to find the trio away from the others, even if it was nice to see Kwali spending time with her nieces, but what really struck the research team was how playful KE3 and KE4 were. 

The data recorded on the pride to date reveals that KE4 is the lion least likely to initiate play.  Play has an essential role in development and sociability and lions engage in such behaviour when they are free from environmental pressures.  Free from stress and not having to keep one eye on AS5, the two sisters chased through the grass, leaping in the air only to land and tumble over each other, all while aunt Kwali looked on.  And so it seems that while the cat’s away, the K’s will play after all. 

KE4 chases KE3 

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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