Lions and Steenbok and Birds, Oh My!
As lions are known to rest for anything up to 21 hours a day, conserving their energy for hunting when it is needed most, the days in Ngamo can often pass by with very little activity from the pride. Recently however, the research team have seen the pride make good use of this energy; seizing the opportunity to hunt, no matter how small the prey.
On the afternoon of the 21st of July the pride were resting in Amboseli. They had spent the majority of the day there, and by the time the temperature was starting to cool the lions were beginning to stir. Some members of the pride were going about their usual routine of grooming themselves upon waking; meanwhile something had caught the attention of AS4. A group of magpie shrike were foraging on the ground, completely unaware they were being watched by a rather large cat. The team watched as AS4 took to a stalking position and lay flat to the ground, ready to pounce. Within moments she launched towards the birds and successfully captured one of them. The fuss caught the attention of KE3 and she was soon up to investigate. Being the more dominant of the two, KE3 claimed the bird for herself without resistance from AS4, but she quickly lost interest in her stolen prize and returned to rest. It wasn’t too long before the group of magpie shrike began to return to forage and as the research team left the pride for the day, AS4 was joined by KE3, Nala and Kwali and the game of stalk and chase resumed.
Over the recent weeks sightings of steenbok within the release site have become regular. Earlier in the month KE3, with the assistance of KE4, AT1, AS5, Kenge and Kwali, hoped to catch this small antelope. However, with their prey sited on higher ground and in an open landscape, their steenbok prey had clear visual of the lions and the hunt was unfortunately over before it had really begun. However on the 23rd the pride were successful in catching up with a steenbok as it darted through the grass in the Masai Mara area. It was initially Kwali, AS4 and AS5 who spotted it, but on seeing their pride mates vigilance the rest of the pride were soon on their paws and they hurriedly moved off. The research team were following behind Milo, being careful not to disturb any potential hunt, when all of a sudden there was a huge commotion ahead. The lions had closed in on their prey! With a steenbok providing very little edible biomass the struggle was on to quickly secure something to eat. The research team was most impressed to see sub-adults KE3 and KE4, together with AT1 and Kenge emerge successful from the excited scrum with small sized portions each; meanwhile the rest of the pride were left with nothing but blood-stained faces and the tantalising scent of a fresh kill.
About the Ngamo Lion Release Site
The 6 adults (1 male and 5 females) of the ‘Ngamo Pride’ were captive born and released into the ‘Ngamo Lion Release Site’ in 2010, having been walked in the rehabilitation phase of the ex situ conservation project, the African Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Programme. The pride’s 5 offspring (1 male and 4 females) were born in the site and have had no human contact, display natural behaviours, and are intended for release into the wild in the final phase of the Programme.
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