As many of you will have read already Ngamo’s most infamous little lioness, AT1, has been fine-tuning her hunting skills on an almost daily basis this last month. On Friday the 13th, these practice runs paid off…
AT1 stalks through the grass
We located the pride lionesses’ in the early morning heading out of the Maasai Mara area towards water hole 2 following the scent of a small herd of zebra. After the herd disappeared into Serengeti East the lionesses and cubs settled in for a morning play marathon rather than pursuing the game. The research vehicle shook with laughter as Kwali was almost chased into the side of the vehicle by her fearsome niece, KE4, and Phyre submitted to the jagged jaws of KE3.
Phyre & KE3
By lunch time the group had thoroughly tired themselves out and began to doze under the dappled light of an acacia tree. As all fell silent however one pride member caught scent of something. AT1 sniffed the air delicately as she slowly rose to her paws. She fondly glanced back at her slumbering family then melted away into the grass of Serengeti East. Shortly after Kwali awoke, vigilant to AT1’s movements, and out of mere curiosity it seemed, began to follow.
Our researcher assumed the two lions were perhaps going to drink behind the towering reeds of water hole 2 or simply going for a walkabout as they occasionally do. After 15-20mins neither had returned to the group and our researcher’s suspicions grew. We followed an old 2 track that lead to High Street South through the Hwange and Serengeti East areas with little hope of finding such well camouflaged cats when suddenly something black, white and red began to appear up ahead in the road…a zebra kill! We drew the vehicle slowly closer and quickly spotted the familiar face of AT1 pop up from behind the carcass, covered in fresh blood and panting at a furious rate. Kwali was also seated close to the carcass catching her breath after what must have been a swift kill.
Kwali & AT1
Despite her developing hunting abilities AT1 is not fully-grown and taking down an adult mare zebra alone would have been a struggle for any 15-month old cub. Its certain that aunt Kwali would have been the main huntress in this encounter, but AT1s panting clearly shows that she was very much involved in the successful kill, the first time we are sure of such an event. Our research team cursed their luck on not following AT1 and Kwali immediately as they surely would have been treated to a prime view of the catch and kill. However there were smiles all round as AT1 began to open the carcass further and treat herself to well deserved zebra organs.
Eventually she needed some time out and moved off a short distance to rest allowing Kwali to tuck into the ribs. Yet just as AT1’s eyes were closing she spotted an approaching wildebeest herd. Surely she wouldn’t be interested in chasing more game after this successful hunt?? Of course she would!
As the herd drew closer and closer to AT1 and Kwali, AT1s instinctual opportunism immediately kick in and she took to the cover of the tall grass along the road, flanking effortlessly closer. The herd placed themselves in a small nearby thicket to feed and also set themselves up for a nasty surprise. We lost visual of the golden cub in the ocean of grass that is Serengeti East and held our breath. Suddenly the herd flew through the grass like a black-sailed ship with AT1 the pirate on their tail wind. AT1 managed to sprint to within 5m!! But alas the wildebeest ship sailed off towards the horizon and out of harms way and AT1 returned to the prized zebra kill.