Over the past two weeks the Ngamo pride has spent their time doing exactly what cats do best; eat, sleep and then repeat again.
On 11th February, a scavenge opportunity was set-up within the release site, unbeknown to the pride. The placement of such scavenges allows the lions to develop their searching skills and provides an opportunity for the research team to observe feeding behaviour. This includes the different displays of dominance that pride members exhibit in their competition for food. The carcass was hidden in the Masai Mara area of the site and the lions discovered the secluded feast during the night. Much to the research team’s dismay, however, by the time they arrived in the morning the pride was already lying flat out. With stuffed bellies, they rested to digest their meal. By the evening, after a long sleepy day, the lions were ready to return for their second sitting, and they slowly began to sniff around for leftovers.
Milo, however, did not have to go searching for seconds as he had made sure he had enough food to keep him going all day. As usual, he had claimed a hefty sized portion for himself and dragged it an impressive 70 metres away from the rest of the pride in order to feed alone. The only sightings of the pride male that day were when he bolted out of the thicket to chase away his pride mates who were hoping to grab a mouthful of the meat that he had laid claim to.
The following morning, the pride was again found resting in Masai Mara, having hardly moved away from the feeding area. This time though they had watchful eyes upon them. With the remnants of the carcass strewn across the area, the white-backed vultures and pied crows had begun to arrive, and they perched in the trees waiting to gain access to the scraps. Phyre was first to notice the birds and managed to keep them at bay by shifting her position each time they came close. AS4, who is quite bold in investigating things that have caught her attention, also kept her eye on the birds. As the crows settled above the scraps she made a move towards the tree, sending them flying away while they vocalised their disturbance. Even with their bellies full, it seemed Phyre and AS4 were not quite ready to share any of their leftovers just yet.
The proceeding few days saw a lot of lazing about until, during the afternoon of the 16th February, as they were all resting in the Tree Tops area, Kwali and AT1 held their noses to the air as they picked up the scent of a carcass. The pride began to move off one by one and they followed their noses through the release site. As they passed by Leopard Tree the pride was keen to find the source of the scent, but AS5 couldn’t resist a quick visit to the huge thicket that had been his birth den. He ran towards it, spending a moment or two inside before he came bounding back out again to play with AS4. As the pride neared the area of the site known as Camp, they were hot on the trail of the scent and before we knew it, they were rushing eagerly towards the feast and began to tuck in. The next day the research team were met with another mass of round bellies, all contently lazing in the morning sun. Again, it was a day of long sleepy sessions, interrupted only to snack on scraps before returning to snooze once again. It just goes to show, whether they are big, small, wild or domestic; cats will be cats: eat, sleep, and repeat!