Ngamo pride still a tightly knitted social group
Temperatures for the Ngamo pride soared during early November. Whilst this might not give us the most exciting research opportunities ever witnessed, as the lions predominantly seek shade and sleep, it has given the team a good opportunity to see the social fabric that holds this pride together; even when snoozing is high on the agenda.
The 10th of November saw a flurry of social activity, as the pride focused on maintaining the social bonds that hold them together. The research team drove to the site during the hot mid-morning session expecting to find the pride fast asleep. Little did they know that the lions and lionesses would keep them on their toes recording the social interactions that were to take place.
The close bond between Milo and his son, AS5, is regularly observed by the research team. They often choose to sit together, and spend time in each other’s company. It is perhaps no surprise then that they were the initiators of the social interactions during this session, spending many minutes mutually greeting and licking each other under the shade of the tree. The lionesses were also keen to strengthen their bonds with each other, with Nala entering a marathon 8 minute grooming session with Phyre. Phyre is the most sociable and dominant female member of the Ngamo pride, and as such is often the focus of attention from the other lions.
Not to be left out, AT1 positioned herself next to Phyre’s mouth to secure her share of the grooming action. Unable to resist the opportunity to attend to her relationship with one of the younger members of the pride, Phyre responded.
The research team are also keen to observe the social bonds that exist between the young lions born into the release pride. Recording social interactions and nearest neighbour data offers some insights into how socially integrated these lions are with the rest of the pride and each other. AT1 enjoys a close friendship with Kenge’s daughter, KE3. Both lions are very proficient hunters and often seek each other’s company. Despite the heat, AT1 moved away from Phyre to her friend and half-sister KE3 to engage in a bout of social licking to reaffirm this relationship. Meanwhile Nala turned towards Kenge’s other daughter KE4, to greet and lick one of the youngest members of this pride.
As AT1 wandered over to KE3, Phyre focused on Kenge who had succumbed to the heat of the day and had fallen asleep. Waking from her slumber, Kenge reciprocated, and under a hot sun, these two adults attended to social bonds that are crucial to keeping this lion pride together.