The current low water level of the Sand River is allowing the Tsalala Pride to be a little more adventurous in their movements. Spending more time south of the river, they have increased their hunting grounds substantially. As spring envelops us the days are getting hotter and the river is a hive of activity, especially in the mid afternoon as animals come down for a refreshing drink. The Tsalala sisters are well aware of this and are using the river and it’s flood plain as a highway to speed up their movements and increase their chances of a successful hunt.
They have also adopted the strategy taught to them by their mother, The Tailless Female, of hunting in the middle of the day. A couple of days back I watched them actively patrolling and hunting the river banks in over 36 degree celsius heat! My take on this is that all the prey species are hot and bothered and thus concentrate their movements around available water and shade. This makes them easier to find; there is also the added bonus that in the middle of the day the marauding hyenas are often fast asleep and so the possibility of hyena lion conflict is lessened.This factor cannot be stressed enough when you consider they have 8 cubs to support at the moment.
The eight cubs are doing exceptionally well. The younger four are now old enough to be relatively mobile around the northern sections of Londolozi, and the older four are starting to become more and more independent! As they continue to grow these cubs are going to require more food and the two sisters are going to have to start taking more risks and target larger prey species. They have spent the last couple of months preying upon Impala but I feel now that with 10 mouths to feed and the creation of a Sabi Sand Super Pride they are going to have to start turning up the heat. A super pride that often hunts during the day…a recipe for entertainment.
Written and photographed by: Adam Bannister
Filmed by: Rich Laburn