The more open "Puku Dambo" after the fire
With the grass now more or less cleared in the vast majority of the site after Monday’s fire, the pride have kindly decided to hang out in the one area that was untouched by flames and still boasts plenty of tall grass. Yesterday afternoon (25th) we found the lions just as they were crossing waterpan 1’s riverbed and promptly sat in a bush. We could see Loma, and sort of see bits and pieces of Leya… but no matter which side we approached from the rest were too concealed by the last few clumps of grass left in the site.
It was about this time anyway that black plumes of smoke were noticed from the South. Despite being fairly confident that there is nothing left to burn this side of the site and therefore no way for fire to get in again, we decided to go and check just to be sure.
Once confirmed that the southern boundary was a charred and impenetrable barrier to the fire that was burning outside the site, we headed back towards pan 1, via pan 3. And found that Rusha, Kela and Loma had transferred themselves gloriously out into the open! We scanned the area for the others but there was no sign, but we were getting a relatively strong signal for Leya. Several minutes later and Leya, Kwandi and Temi came marching around the corner with Leya and Temi making a beeline for Rusha and a greeting. 100m or so away from us we could see Zulu gazing to the south – presumably at the smoke cloud - but it was another few more minutes until he plodded around the corner and joined the girls.
He also went to greet Rusha, but by this point she’d had enough attention and bared her teeth at him. Zulu didn’t seem to care less and flopped his enormous self down between Rusha and Temi.
Rusha & Zulu
For several minutes everyone seemed interested in watching the smoke (which was a lot more attention than they gave the fire that actually came into their home!) but eventually resettled the other side of the pan in the shade. Sleep gradually took over… but not for long. It appears that the lions had all settled upon something’s nest. Something that could clearly bite or sting, as one by one, first Kela, then Leya, followed by Loma – twice, then Kwandi and Temi all stood, then, for lack of a better word, hopped from foot to foot, swiping at their back legs with their tails and snapping with their jaws.
Kwandi & Zulu
Once repositioned and settled again, it gave us an opportunity to inspect Kwandi, Leya and Zulu. Over Monday and Tuesday we saw that they had several porcupine quills embedded deeply under their chins, and for Leya in the leg and Zulu was sporting a painful limp. Leya appeared to have pulled her share of the spikes out by Tuesday, and looked in tip top condition yesterday. Zulu either managed to pull his share of the spikes out himself or wooed one of the ladies sufficiently that they assisted. Kwandi’s was probably the quill of most concern as it appeared to have penetrated much deeper and very close to her throat. But this too was gone, and there was no noticeable limp for Zulu either.
Loma, Kela & Rusha
So at the end of a rather dramatic and sometimes hair-raising week, today, the 26th marks Leya and Loma’s 4th birthday (just don’t put any candles on the birthday cake!) – and a stellar nine months since Kela, Kwandi, Leya, Loma, Rusha & Temi stepped through the release gate and into stage two.
Happy birthday to Leya & Loma - sometimes together
and sometimes not