Kwandi shows her mettle
October 25 2012

The overcast skies from the weekend were a thing of the past when we entered the site on the 24th October. There were blue skies and blazing sunshine, but thankfully a strong wind kept the temperatures at bay. This in turn found the pride in fine form blustering along the boundary road in the North of the site.

Zulu, sporting the wind-swept look; Loma in front

Stopping to rest at Pan 2, Kela initiated a round of greetings amongst some of her nearest and dearest and Zulu greeted and settled next to Temi. But when Kwandi tried to initiate a greeting on him she was welcomed with a sharp bite to the leg; for whatever reason wasn’t apparent. Despite stopping to rest the group seemed restless with first Rusha walking 30m down the road to the West before returning to greet and sit with the Ks and Temi, before Zulu did exactly the same – only to the South – before planting himself between the L sisters.

Rusha returns to the group and greets Kela

Finally, Loma took charge of the situation and marched with purpose North East, were keen to move and one by one they rose and followed, with Zulu bringing up the rear.

The journey didn’t last long and the pride came to rest a couple of hundred metres away in the North of Puku Dambo, a spot which we decided was perfectly placed to be within earshot of a playback experiment. As an activity budget was completed on Kela, speakers and a recording of three lions roaring were set up outside of the site… The last playback conducted on the pride had been using a greater number of lions than the pride, causing a hesitant response from many pride members - hardly surprising when you’re outnumbered 3:1. So as the hour studying Kela came to an end, with the lions now in a deep sleep, we were itching to give them a bit of a wake-up call.

At 9:10 exactly the pride bolted upright and to attention as the playback boomed across the area, with Kwandi rising to her feet first. A brief pause to assess the situation and she began to move forward stopping only briefly before bee-lining for the treeline. Next up was Zulu; having been sat about 20m apart before the playback started Zulu began to veer to the right to join Kwandi, causing her to pause and look over before he joined her and they marched side by side into the boundary. Just before the pair entered the treeline, they stopped – and in perfect unison looked to their left before heading deeper into the thick vegetation.

Kwandi pauses during her approach

Heinsohn and Packer (1995) found that female lions showed consistent differences in their reactions to territorial encounters. For example, some lions would always lead while others would consistently lag in their approach in an effort to avoid conflict. While Kwandi did show caution in the last experiment at the start of the month, today’s “leader” response was much more representative of what we’ve come to expect from her on past experiments.

Zulu and Kwandi approach the boundary

Having thoroughly disrupted their morning, after the final laggard had made their way past our vehicle we left them to resettle for the morning; even if it was with a keen eye to the North to watch out for “intruders”.

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