Kela, Temi & Rusha
The 23rd August found the Dambwa pride looking, well, rather fat. The previous afternoon we had dropped a scavenge in the site for them to discover – so it was hardly a surprise to find that they had eaten overnight. But the humungous size of all of their stomachs (which when viewed as they all rested in the shade close to the waterpan looked like a series of undulating hills) suggested that as well as having fed on that, they’d continued to gorge themselves with a subsequent kill on either puku or impala. Either way, within a couple of minutes it was clear this was going to be a lazy morning with just the occasional re-positioning!
Even the lure of an extra top-up snack couldn’t quite convince them to move. As a flock of 20-plus guinea fowl clucked up to the water pan and mere metres from the lions, only Kwandi, Leya and Zulu could be bothered to open their eyes to watch them all around the pride – but none of them were able to muster the strength to make any effort to catch one. Sometime later, as the guinea fowl continued to try and build the courage to drink with the lions so close by, Leya made the biggest effort at activity of the day by sitting up to watch them for a full 30 seconds – before collapsing back into a heap. Despite the lethargy, it was still an absolute joy to watch seven thoroughly content lions doing what lions do best.
Kwandi & Leya watch the flock of guinea fowl all around them
Loma, Kela & Leya sleep their one year anniversary since release
Sunday the 26th was a very special day, marking the one year anniversary since Kela, Kwandi, Leya, Loma, Rusha and Temi were released into the Dambwa site. And how did they spend this milestone? How else, by alternating between rest and bouts of play despite the heat of the mid-morning.
By the 27th they were in much livelier form – for a time. Resting by waterpan three Zulu was especially interested in something to the West of their location. He ventured about 60m away – under the watchful eyes of six curious lionesses – where he sat for a while monitoring the area.
Ambling his way back to the group after 10 minutes or so he spent some considerable effort in greeting Leya. Whilst his back was turned Kwandi began stalking up behind him… but at the last minute changed her mind and opted for a greeting instead. Social butterfly Loma was in no way happy about all this joviality going on without her and so launched in for a greeting on her pride male herself; as she moved past him Zulu moved up behind her, sniffing and displaying Flehman as Loma moved off to scent mark a nearby bush and then greeting Rusha.
Rusha & Zulu
All that excitement meant there was a need to settle back down and recover themselves. But perhaps they shouldn’t have taken their eye off the ball.... By mid-morning they’d slipped into a deep sleep, but as the morning wore on a small herd of eight impala could be seen (by us) making their way East through the area before suddenly changing track and heading directly for the waterpan - and the lions. Willing one of the lions to wake up, it was a nail-biting few minutes as the oblivious impala drew closer and closer. The waterpan is still predominantly surrounded by tall grass and many shrubs and despite the gusting wind back and forth the impala failed to pick up on the lions’ scent. The lead impala eventually came into the clearing around the pan and stopped less than 20m from the sleeping lions. Snorting a warning to the rest of his herd before sprinting away, all seven sleepy heads were now fully awake. In those few seconds the impala had already sprinted to safer ground; despite a cursory look by Kwandi to assess any possible routes to creep back up on the impala, the herd had moved far enough away to an open area and were now all too aware of the danger nearby. The game was up before it had even begun.
The pride is awoken by the alarm call of an impala