A feast fit for a pride… or two

4 12 2011

Wednesday 30th November found all of the pride looking fat and content near waterpan 2. It was painfully obvious that since we had last visited them last they had eaten something, but search the area as we might we couldn’t find the source of the bulging waistlines.

Still, even the extra weight didn’t stop Leya making mischief with sister Loma.

On Friday (2nd), we weren’t really too sure what had happened…

The morning started off peacefully enough with the KLs eyeing up a waterbuck in Kariba but still a little weighted down from the last meal didn’t do anything about it. Rusha and Temi had headed off in the opposite direction and were resting happily in the shade of a tree in Tsavo. By mid-morning the KLs had drifted off to sleep but as we returned to Rusha and Temi, the pair had just got up and started to stalk off into the Acacia treeline. Quickly switching off the engine, the shapes of Temi stalking directly and Rusha taking a right flank were just visble.

But we couldn’t see what they were stalking and to begin with weren’t even sure that they in fact were. Once they disappeared out of sight and further into the treeline we could only guess at what was going on. Until… a sudden crash of branches indicated the chase was on and from the sounds of it, Temi had initiated it. We caught a brief glimpse high up in the tree line of Rusha racing across to assist and were able to follow the progress of what we still assumed was a hunt by the shaking trees. Then confirmation: the unmistakable sounds of an animal caught. We knew it was big from the sounds, which meant either zebra (unlikely, they’re rarely in the thickets), waterbuck (possible, but again unlikely as they usually are spotted elsewhere in the site) or eland.  As the pandemonium in the trees escalated we could only listen.  Without achieving even a glimpse of what  the %$@* was going on we had to admit defeat and leave the area and leave the pair to their meal.

Catching up with Kela, Kwandi, Leya and Loma we arrived just in time to see Kwandi initiate a hunt on some zebra close to water pan 1. As her group mates watched on, she began the stalk from 150m and considering how open the area was she made rapid progress. But was spotted at around 30m. Kwandi continued to pursue for a while, but the game was up. For now.

Weather kept us out of the site on Saturday; a huge storm the previous night making many of the roads un-drivable.

Today (4th) we caught up with the Kela/Kwandi gang the other side of water pan 1 sitting around the remains of a zebra kill. It seemed perhaps Kwandi hadn’t given up quite so easily!  Rusha and Temi were still up in Tsavo, and Rusha seemed in restless form.

Luckily for us Rusha’s mooching around eventually lead us to where the pair had dragged the kill from Friday. It was indeed an eland. These antelope are ginormous; and having had the thing to themselves for the past two days so were Rusha and Temi. The carcass was best part of 70% utilised and now the remaining meat is starting to green. Neither looked capable of shoving another mouthful in… but were equally unwilling to give up the spoils to the collecting vultures.


A look at their form…

14 08 2011

The Dambwa pride already has a formidable track record and blistering form; we have every confidence that they will be able to sustain themselves upon release.  On regular forays into the site the girls have refused to come home to their enclosure and made a kill overnight when we went to find them in the following morning.  On 26th August we will cease trying to encourage them back to the enclosure, but will leave them out in their natural environment to look after themselves.

Kwandi made her first kill on 5th March 2009 when she caught a cane rat on a morning walk.  In July of that year she killed two waterbuck, 11 days apart, and soon after took a duiker.  Rusha on the other hand found a liking for baboon, including occasionally climbing into trees to flush them out.  She took three; in January and February 2010 and another in August of the same year.  She also caught and killed a monitor lizard in February 2010.  Temi caught a waterbuck when she was only 11 months old in September 2009, following up later that month with an impala.  Later she also took a baboon and a further impala.

But it is Leya who is the undisputed queen of the hunt.  At thirteen months old she caught herself an impala, but followed that up soon after by taking down a four metre tall giraffe.  Not content with that she went on a few months later to take a second giraffe before moving onto a successful wildebeest hunting career.

Whilst no kills can be attributed specifically to either Kela or Loma, they have been present on a number of successful hunts that have been made within the Dambwa site during their pre-release training.  The pride has successfully hunted wildebeest, impala and puku in the site, with wildebeest being the favoured prey.

It is not just the number of kills that is impressive but also the variety of species taken, each requiring different approaches.  We are confident that this pride is well prepared for the challenges ahead.

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