There were birthday celebrations this week in Ngamo as lioness Phyre turned 7 years old on the 4th. We found the birthday girl and invited guests around water hole 1, and the party appeared to be in full swing. As Kenge, Kwali, Ashanti and cubs sprinted back and forth in a huge game of catch and chase, AT1 and the ‘N’ sisters rolled around in the mud and grass snapping at each others paws and tails. Meanwhile it appeared Phyre was enjoying some male attention from Milo. Milo closely followed Phyre suggesting she was perhaps in heat and as the party went on her body language began to confirm our suspicions!
As the early morning ‘jolly’ began to die down an aggressive commotion was heard from behind the reeds. Kwali emerged looking anxious and submissive clearly trying to keep out of sight of someone. Phyre was then seen balling out of the reeds chasing Kwali in a slow but determined manner. Milo of course was still shadowing Phyre with one concern on his mind but this just added to poor Kwali’s anxiety.
Phyre chased Kwali repeatedly around the water hole, occasionally lashing out at her, causing the rest of the pride to race to the fight. All began to roar as Kwali slipped away, panting heavily from the bullying.
Eventually Kwali rejoined the group and caught her breath resting by Milo and Phyre. The whole incident was quite a shock for our researcher however there may have been good reason behind Phyre’s behaviour. As we know Phyre is more than often the dominant female of Ngamo and to maintain dominance may ‘test’ other pride members. We mostly see this ‘testing’ or bullying in a more social and playful manner but this can sometimes lead to aggressive encounters. If Phyre was also in heat as suspected her ‘hormones’ may also have been indicative of her behaviour towards Kwali.
To many though it may appear to have been simply just a boisterous birthday girl rant at her birthday party.