The past week in Ngamo started out a bit quiet. For the first part heavy rains had left access to some areas of the site inaccessible, but by the latter half of the week the dark, heavy clouds had moved on and the sun made a blazing reappearance.
On the morning of the 23rd our research team were met by Ashanti, Kenge, Nala, Narnia, Kwali, AT1, KE3 and KE4 all taking a stroll through the Serengeti East area of the site. Ashanti’s two youngsters and their dad, Milo, were nowhere to be seen and, nor for that matter, was Phyre. That was until Nala lent a helping paw to the team and paused as she passed a tree. Looking upwards we spotted the alpha female surveying her territory from a prime spot among the foliage. After a few moments Phyre gracefully made her way down the tree and joined the girls in resting along Route 66.
Nala & Phyre (in the tree)
The next day the females and youngsters were all located in the Amboseli area of the site. All looked suspiciously larger than yesterday. Our research team were convinced missing Milo was probably tucked away somewhere with the remains of their meal and by lunchtime all suspicions were confirmed. There amongst the thickets Milo sat, casually licking at his guarded zebra spoils while the girls and his cubs slept away the rest of the afternoon in the hazy sunshine.
Over the following couple of days the high temperatures continued and the females and cubs took to lazing about together in the shade. Milo however took some time out for himself and on the 25th and 26th he spent his time alone. As males tend to be less social than their female counterparts the fact that Milo had chosen some alone time is quite natural and by the afternoon of the 26th he had reunited with his pride to rest in the setting sun.
Ashanti however is the opposite and highly social. On the morning of the 28th she was spotted alone hunting zebra in Amboseli. After patiently stalking the unsuspecting herd she took her chance and gave chase, coming to within metres of a trailing zebra. With her efforts unrewarded she began to wander through the area looking for the rest of the pride.
She covered a great deal of ground as she searched, even passing Milo along the way who was seeing the morning in on Route 66. But it wasn’t Milo she was looking for, it was her female companions. As she travelled she called out in the hope of receiving a response from her missing pride mates. But the only response that came was from Milo as he followed on behind her, joining her in her search.
After a lengthy walk she reached the Hwange area of the site and there she called again. Unbeknownst to her the rest of the pride was actually resting a short distance away, as she started to wander out of the area to search elsewhere, Phyre caught a glimpse of her. Phyre immediately rose to her paws and made her way towards the lonely female. She was soon tailed by AT1 then Kwali, before the rest of the group were following to meet up with Ashanti.
Within minutes the whole pride were all happily reunited and Ashanti fussed over her cubs showering them with loving licks.
Ashanti & AS5
These past few days have not only been an interesting insight into the differences between males and females and the levels of companionship they each need, but also a great example of how closely bonded and socially stable the Ngamo pride continue to be.