Over the past month the Dambwa release site research team noticed that Rusha was putting on a bit of weight in a manner that suggested she may be pregnant – a condition often very difficult to confirm in lions until the final stages. On Thursday 20th June Rusha was absent from the pride, her radio-collar signal suggesting she was in a thicket in the centre of the site. The following day she was still in the same area.
During the past few days Rusha’s signal has continued to emanate from the same location suggesting denning behaviour. She has now been observed a few brief times since her departure from the pride; when she visits a waterhole or re-joins the rest of the pride for a bit of social time, and a peek through binoculars of her nipples indicate that they are swollen with brown rings around them.
All of this leads us to believe that Rusha has given birth to Zulu’s cubs, the first litter to be born in the Dambwa release site since the pride’s release. In the coming weeks we shall give the potential new mother plenty of space to do what she needs to do in her thicket, so don’t expect pictures of cubs for some weeks yet. Long term supporters of our work will know that the survival rate of cubs from a lioness’s first litter are low, but we wish Rusha all the best as she comes to terms with motherhood.
Meanwhile dad has other interests with his sights firmly set on both Kela and Kwandi and has been taking advantage of mating opportunities that they have been presenting to him.
Zulu covering Kwandi
All of this pride activity has led the youngest member, Temi, to spend a fair bit of time on her own at the far side of the site. Judging by her stomach she has been catching a few puku or impala for herself, or in fact, maybe she is also pregnant.