The morning of the 23rd saw an unusual (for October anyway) chilly and windy release site, which provided some relief from the searing heat of the previous days. After a long search, Phyre, AT1 and AS5 were finally located taking refuge in the long grass of Serengeti West as the clouds and mist blew over their resting place. AT1, being the first to move off, led the trio along a meandering game path and into Hwange.
Once in a clearing the threesome stopped to scan the area for any passing herds before Phyre made her way up towards Route 66, sniffing the ground for any interesting scents. Soon Phyre came to rest near Route 66 on the border of Etosha. AT1 and AS5 slowly slotted in next to her for warmth as the wind continued to blow. Unfortunately, with a puncture on the vehicle the research team had to move off to change it without locating the other lions.
With the flat tyre replaced the team headed back into the release site. Phyre and AT1 were soon relocated on Route 66, but with pride male Milo in attendance instead of AS5. Once awake from her slumber, AT1 spotted a herd of impala and, with a potential meal in the area, she rose to her paws. Dominant female Phyre stirred, and after exchanging a quick greeting the pair headed off in the direction of the impala, leaving Milo behind.
They found themselves a good vantage point and settled in to watch the feeding herd. Milo, who had now decided to follow his pride mates lumbered through the long grass towards them. After a quick greeting to her arriving dad, AT1 lowered herself below the grass cover, flanking left of the herd. Milo and Phyre watched as the determined sub-adult quickly moved through the grass towards her prey.
As the impala herd moved into a thicket Phyre decided to join the hunt, flanking to the opposite side of AT1's approach. By now the research team had lost sight of AT1, but an impala alarm call signalled that at least the impala had spotted her. The herd fled and the two lionesses rejoined to settle down for an afternoon snooze.
During the afternoon the research team first discovered Milo resting on his own in Masai Mara. With no other pride members in the area GPS co-ordinates were taken of his position and the team continued the search for the other lions.
In Tree Tops the tell-tale black patches behind lions' ears were spotted moving through the long grass. Ashanti and Kwali were on the move. Every now and then Ashanti stopped to sniff the ground, and as they continued their march into Kruger, Ashanti softly called out. After a long walk passed waterhole 2 and into Serengeti West they scanned the area for their missing pride, but eventually gave up the search, sitting down in the grass, damp from the drizzle.
Ashanti & Kwali (above), Ashanti (below)
Since the research team themselves had not seen the other pride members, they too continued their search. Once in the Valley, Nala, Phyre, Kenge and KE4 meandered through the long grass and out into the open. The group stopped and scanned the area and soon spotted a herd of impala in the distance. They slowly proceeded forward as the herd went out of sight. Once in Hwange the four lionesses soon settled in the open keeping an eye out for any passing herd as darkness fell over the release site