It has been an exceptionally dry year for us in Ngamo. Already the grass has lost all it green vibrancy turning the release site into a collage of golds, browns and yellows. During the dry season the game will begin to seek out areas where the vegetation still provides sufficient browsing and grazing. Often these areas are located around waterholes and they become small havens within the tinder dry grasslands.
Research upon wild prides has shown lions will more than often create their territories around the confluences of rivers where there is water available for a large proportion of the year. Being adept hunters lions will frequent water holes as they often offer food tickets in leaner times. This tactic is what we are observing daily with the Ngamo pride and water hole 1 appears to be the hole to be at this dry season.
During the late afternoon of the 21st the pride’s lionesses were followed from behind water hole 2 into the Maasai Mara area following a herd of grazing zebra. As the light began to fade our team headed out to leave the lions and their prey in peace. Then low and behold on the morning of the 22nd a zebra kill was found in thicket of Amboseli close to water hole 1. The last four kills have been found around the water hole 1 area. With the dense reed bed surrounding the water body and large acacia thicket directly opposite, the area provides fantastic ambush opportunities for the lions.
Most of the cubs had their fill with little to no disturbance from dad throughout the day. Only a fragment of the spine and ribs remained by the afternoon and this was guarded ferociously by AS5 after older half-sister AT1 had discarded it.
On the 25th the lionesses were at it again but this time in the scrub of the Hwange area. Ashanti was noted moving off somewhat adamantly along Route 66 from Etosha towards Hwange and eventually the rest of the females followed in pursuit. Ashanti had picked up the scent of 2 zebra roaming through the scrub of Hwange. Visual was eventually lost but we managed to keep an eye on Phyre creeping into the grass toward the herd. As Phyre began to close the gap Ashanti sprung from the undergrowth a mere 5m away from the zebra only to then watch the zebra sprint away into Serengeti East.
On the 27th with not even a paw print in sight by 5pm but a missing zebra from the resident herds, fate was being accepted. Often if a kill is not located during the morning session, when the lions are more active, the chances of finding them in the bush is near impossible. Fortunately one vigilant volunteer spotted the dirty face of AT1 poking through the reeds of water hole 3 having a drink. Growling was heard nearby and one by one the rest of the pride appeared looking very well fed. We were unable to obtain a visual of the kill but based upon the missing herd member and general size of bellies it was a given another zebra had met its fate by another water hole!
AT1 & AS4