Mission accomplished

8 09 2011

It took a little time to locate the lions this morning (7th September), but eventually they were tracked down to the borders of Tsavo and Kulibe. It didn’t take a genius to work out from the size of their bellies that whatever mission they had been on yesterday afternoon had been accomplished overnight.

As they lazed in the shade of the trees, we set off to try and find the source of the bulging waist lines.

About 50m from where they rested was evidence of a kill site and drag marks led us a further 20m where the skull and a leg of a sub-adult wildebeest lay. Another 20m into the rough stuff brought us to what appeared to be a second kill site, the length of the legs of this animal indicating an older wildebeest; but little else remained.  Dambwa security staff working overnight at the nearest gate (Lusaka) confirmed they had heard the sounds of a kill in this direction at approximately 8pm last night.

By mid-morning the pride had moved exactly nowhere and as time wore on little happened except the odd kick, shove and push as the heavy lions readjusted their positions, hauling themselves further into the shade and trying to make more and more room for their stomachs. Kwandi seemed to be winning the battle for best spot as she practically crow barred Rusha and Loma out of the way – but despite her strong arm tactics she startled awake soon after only to find herself caught on several thorned branches. Loma however spent the morning sliding inch by inch down the small anthill they were all resting on top of and every time either Kwandi or Rusha shifted their considerable selves she’d slide a little further.

Several hours passed and by the afternoon the pride had ventured all the way to the other side of the tree.  As the rest of the group continued to sleep off their heavy meal there was one lioness who couldn’t quite keep herself to herself.

At first it looked as though Kela was just getting up for a stretch and a change of position, but when she went over to say hi to her sister (Kwandi) it turned into a rather extended greeting – followed by a deep resonant purring. Moving to Leya the same process was repeated, complete with purr, before she flopped on her back and rolled around.

With Kela coming into oestrus and no male in the site at present, it’s likely that the other lions will continue to have their rest disrupted for several more days. But lionesses will often synchronise their breeding and this is one aspect we’ll be watching for in the coming days and weeks to see who else follows Kela’s lead.  Such information will also help us to time the introduction of a male when we are ready for that process.

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