What has been interesting to note over the last few months is the two “babies” (three-year old babies mind you) of the group Rusha and Temi becoming not necessarily more dominant, but certainly more likely to influence the group as a whole. The four older females (Kela, Kwandi, Loma and Leya) are a pretty tight-knit bunch and in the early days of the pride’s release, the 4KLs would be fairly unresponsive to any moves the younger two initiated. But it has been with increasing frequency that either Temi or Rusha head up a move and the rest of the pride duly follow. With Temi, it’s quite possibly her more than respectable hunting abilities that are influencing this behaviour as everyone’s learnt to keep tabs on her in case of an easy meal. With Rusha on the other hand… who knows, perhaps it’s just her pretty face and the swagger in her walk.
And so on the 24th we found the pride marching down the middle of the site with none other than Temi at the helm. There appeared to be some definite purpose to the procession, but as they approached Kariba and Sibaka from the East the gusto temporarily left them as they collapsed on the road. Zulu remained standing, scanning the area to the North but eventually set himself down close by. As it looked like things were quietening down we went to check on levels at the waterpans, only to find the lions gone when we returned barely 10 minutes later.
We didn’t have to look far however as they were making their way across Puku Dambo, led now by Kwandi.
By the time they settled again they’d almost walked in a full circle and weren’t too far short of where we’d first encountered them that afternoon. This time they weren’t going anywhere though, and apart from a cursory glance around every now and then, after the earlier urgency a distinct air of calm had descended.
The start of a new week on Monday (26th - the females’ seven month anniversary since release) found the pride ambling around Kariba. On our initial search for them we found a male and female impala near waterpan 1 looking slightly fraught, and well they might as the seven-strong pride came trampling through the area. As we caught up with the lions and they continued to move through the grass there were high hopes that they might be onto the trail of the pair. Stopping frequently, individuals would turn in the direction from which we’d seen the game and tilt their heads sniffing the air. But after several such instances it was clear they hadn’t picked up the scent.
Throughout these repeated stops and starts there was one re-occurring pattern to note. We’ve repeatedly seen that Kela is probably the laziest lion in the pride; even at times outdoing Zulu. If ever another lion initiates a move, she’ll either sleep through it or watch for several minutes just to make sure they really are going before hefting herself to her feet. This afternoon we watched time and time again as every time the pride stopped to assess the scents on the breeze she’d flop to the ground – and as usual wait and wait and wait until the very last moment to join the continuing procession.
Kela (left), Rusha (right)