The 3rd of March was a peculiar day in Ngamo. The weather was grey and gloomy, and we began our research as a cold, gusty wind made its way through the release site. The pride seemed to share our sentiments and was seeing the dreary day in resting in Camp.
The research team arrived on the scene as the mood of the day began revealing itself. AS5, who had been resting beside Milo, rose to his feet and as he did, KE3 promptly moved away from him. On seeing KE3’s uneasiness, AS5 began to follow her and was soon hot on her tail as she ran away from the group.
The research team were unsure as to what had caused KE3’s reaction, but as they prepared to follow the pair, a growl was heard among the lions and it became apparent; Milo. He was snapping at Kwali as she innocently passed him by. In fact, several members of the pride were ‘snappy’ that morning and the team wondered if the blustery weather was the cause of the unusual atmosphere.
The team left the pride to search for KE3 and AS5. They were unable to spot them however, by the time they returned, were relieved to see that KE3 and AS5 had both returned and were resting with their pride mates. Unfortunately, the peace did not last long and AS5 was soon at it again, stalking KE3, causing her to flee for a second time. This time, he chased with more determination and KE3 disappeared out of sight. The young male continued to adamantly search for her; it appeared that he was not willing to end the chase just yet.
We reflected on the data that we had collected from Ngamo over the last few weeks and discovered that we are beginning to see a slight shift in KE3’s position in the pride. The young lioness was beginning to rise through the ranking. This was deduced through the social interaction data that showed us KE3, and even KE4, are higher in dominance than their half-brother AS5. This may explain the unusual episodes displayed by AS5; it was thought that he might also be testing what he can get away with in terms of power over his half-siblings.
Mother Kenge on the other hand, seems to be merely an onlooker as her maturing daughter continues to establish herself in the structure of the pride. Ashanti however, has been getting more involved with her offspring over the past week.
The morning of the 10th was overcast, with the sun only breaking through the cloud on occasion. Once again we came across the pride in Camp; they lay scattered across the area seeking out the brief opportunities to bask in the intermittent sunshine; all except AS4 that is. Obviously AS4 had too much energy to settle for dozing in the sun so she decided to channel it into wrestling a nearby tree. Once the novelty had worn off, she turned her attention towards Ashanti, seeking a more engaging playmate. Ashanti, who was obviously not in the mood to play, immediately rebuffed her daughter making AS4 consider giving up her attempts. Unable to resist the chance to fool around, AS5 bound towards his mother and in a way that perhaps only AS5 could manage, enticed her to join in. Ashanti was clearly now in the mood to play and within moments she was leaping in the air and landed on top of AS4. The research team watched with delight as mother and daughter engaged in an amusing, and rather athletic play while the rest of the pride slept on.
Whether it was temperature or temperaments that brought on the fun and games; we can only confer. Whatever the reason, it seems that March has begun with a little bit of madness!