Your Mum Called
June 22 2015

The social interaction data the research team collects from the Ngamo pride provides great insight into the strength of relationships between the various pride members.  Some clearly have their favourites, for example, AS4 and AS5 are extremely closely bonded, so too is Milo and his son; but there are also a few individuals who hardly ever seem to interact with each other. Interestingly the data often reveals a significant lack of interaction between Milo and Nala and similarly AT1 doesn’t seem to have much time for AS5.  However on the 8th June the research team was pleasantly surprised to see AT1 greet AS5 as he sat resting nearby.  This may not be significant enough to alter the pattern we see in the data but, nonetheless, it was nice to see AT1 acknowledge the young male instead of snapping at him each time he nears.  Is AT1 beginning to warm to AS5? Only time will tell.   

The following morning the team entered the site to find Ashanti in hot pursuit of KE3 through Amboseli.  The rest of the pride seemed interested in the disruption and they hastily followed on behind.  The position of the lions prevented the team from manoeuvring their vehicle quickly enough to gain a clear visual but the sound of growls, most likely from KE3 as she expressed her displeasure at being chased, were heard from nearby. 

Just as the team began to move off to investigate Ashanti, Phyre and Milo began to make their way back towards the remaining pride members, but there was still no sign of KE3.  As the team approached the Camp area of the site they discovered AS4 and AS5 playing together in the grass whilst Nala and Kenge were surveying the area. Nala soon took to rest but Kenge couldn’t seem to settle and she began to call repeatedly.  Contact calls are a soft vocalisation, very different to a roar, and they are the means in which pride members communicate with each other when they are separated or lost. As Kenge wandered off along the boundary, calling as she went, the team suspected that she was most likely to be calling to her daughter KE3, who had fled the area following her spat with Ashanti.  Just as Kenge quickened her pace in search for KE3, Nala began to contact call and it stopped Kenge in her tracks while she paused to listen.  Unfortunately the calls didn’t belong to whom she was searching for and the concerned mum continued on her way.  Once Kenge had disappeared out of sight Nala and AS4 began to follow her and the team decided to do the same, hopeful that they would be present when Kenge eventually found KE3. 

The three lionesses headed through to Etosha and as AS4 attempted to play with Nala the team momentarily took their eyes away from the lions to jot down the data. When the team looked up to continue following the lions they were most unimpressed to find that Kenge and co had completely disappeared.  A search through the long grass revealed no sign of them, there was not so much as a flick of a tail or the twitch of an ear; just like that they were gone! 

By the time the team had returned to conduct their midday session they were pleased to see that harmony had returned to the pride and they were contentedly resting together in Kruger.  KE3 and Ashanti had clearly settled their differences as they lay close to each other and Kenge lay flat out with her paws resting upon AS4 looking a lot less anxious than she had been in the morning.  

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