The only thing I can think of that might help to account for these two very different sets of reactions is this: The Sparta female appeared to be alone; her greatest protection was in a lack of aggression and protectiveness. The Tsalala females were larger in numbers and could protect the young. Sometimes I think that the lionesses “provoke” the testosterone laden males by their behaviors. Perhaps the males think, “Ah, they are protecting the young; perhaps there should be a reason.” Sorta like when my cats have their paws on a toy… if I move to take it away, their claws come out to hold what is “theirs”.. If I just let them be, they could care less that the toy is beneath their paws. I hope this makes sense.
As mentioned a short while back the Sparta Pride appears to be on the mend. The one lioness has two cubs that are thought to have been born around September this year…they are incredibly cute. They play around with not a care in the world, oblivious to the chaos that surrounds them.
Two days ago we had a fascinating sighting that really did strike me as unusual. Now, I have watched the Tsalala Pride Female’s and their cubs at length and observed their behaviour around the Majingilane Coalition Males. It seems as though whenever there is just one of the four brothers they are relaxed and happy to let their youngsters play around, biting and climbing on top of dad. As soon as a second male is present the entire feeling changes…the mothers become agitated and tense. When a third male appears the mothers will protect their youngsters as they run away for cover. And when on the very rare occasion it does happen that the four brothers unite with the pride; the Tsalala Pride bolts leaving trails of dust as they flee. They will not tolerate the four brothers near their cubs.
My take on this behaviour is that the mothers are uncertain about how the fathers will react when the other males bring their testosterone levels to the mix. The unpredictability of the males means it is not worth the risk. Just the slightest quarrel could lead to the death of the precious cargo. I thought this was how females, cubs and large coalitions operated.
That was until I watched the Sparta Pride…the new mother appears to be exceptionally relaxed around the big males. So much so that we had the four males, a great sighting in itself, together with the two Sparta Females and their two female cubs. The cubs ran around playing whilst the lioness slept relatively unconcerned about the males, their bushy manes and their testosterone.
Try as I may I cannot figure out for the life of me why the two prides should treat these males so differently when in the presence of the fathers. I would love to hear your opinions on this piece of lion behaviour and whether you have had any experiences…have your’s been Tsalala or Sparta type reactions?
Written, filmed and photographed by Adam Bannister
Filed under Wildlife
I understand what you are saying Jody and thanks for your comment…what you cant see in the video though is that there are two sparta females there! I have seen it many times when there are two Tsalala females and yet still they run away. There is something interesting going on. Different approaches to raising cubs…