The afternoon of the 25th of October saw the Ngamo pride waking from their slumber in the Valley area of the release site. The heat of the day brought with it dark stormy clouds and every now and then a sprinkle of rain would fall on the site providing some relief from the blistering heat of the morning and early afternoon.
Phyre, seemingly restless, rose to her paws and stretched out before heading off from the resting spot and onto Route 66. The pride soon, one by one, followed the dominant female as she led the pride, minus Milo, who was still in a deep slumber, into Kruger. Soon all the sub-adults, AT1, KE3, KE4, AS4 and AS5, moved to the front of the group and led the way with determination in their walk.
The sub-adults came to a stop halting the adults behind as they all looked in one direction. In the distant Camp area the tell-tale stripes of zebra could be seen moving through the thicket. This sparked the young K sisters' attention and soon they flanked right into the long grass. Mother Kenge had also spotted the herd and followed her daughters into cover.
AT1 and AS4 soon joined the hunt when sight was lost of KE3. As Kenge and AT1 moved closer towards the herd the sound of galloping hooves were heard with KE3 hot on their tails. Their immense speed, however, had the better over the young lioness and soon she gave up, taking cover behind a thicket.
As the pride caught up with KE3 they all moved through Camp and into Amboseli. Once in Amboseli the herd was spotted once again. Once more KE3 and KE4 initiated the hunt moving steadily through the thicket straight in the herd's direction. Phyre, Nala and Ashanti soon sat down and watched as Kwali joined her nieces, moving through the thicket towards the now restless herd. She soon moved in front of her nieces leading them.
The herd re-grouped in a thicket in Amboseli. KE3 and KE4 positioned themselves near another thicket laying close to the ground and watched their aunt move closer to the herd. She soon snuck behind an ant hill within meters of the zebra. A lone zebra trotted out of the thicket toward the rest of the pride.
Kwali sprinted out of the thicket and the chase began. With Kwali hot on a female’s heels she pushed the zebra in the direction of her young nieces who waited in ambush. The zebra spotted KE4 first, leaping over her and into the grasp of her sister KE3. In one swift movement KE3 pulled the zebra down and onto its back. Once the dust had settled it revealed KE3 on the throat for the kill. Kwali and KE4 helped keep hold of the zebra whilst KE3 clamped down on the throat.
Once all had settled KE3 took a step back from her kill and settled, gaining her breath back after the excitement of her kill. Kenge, AS4 and AS5 soon joined the group around the zebra and all began to tuck in as the heavens opened over the release site.
We do not have still photos of this event due to low-light conditions at the time, however the whole hunt has been filmed for a new TV series currently in production. We hope to bring you this footage very soon.
At two years old the youngest members of Ngamo are becoming independent members of the pride, ready to fully assist the adults in providing for the pride. Whilst most of the adults held back, letting their young do all the work, it was Kwali, the pride's alpha hunter that continues to provide expert tutelage to the young lions.
That these lions are able to now successfully hunt for themselves is testament to the success of the program. The adults of the pride were given the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to survive through the lion walking program in stage one, and are therefore able to teach those skills in a completely natural way to their cubs in the release stages of the program.