I never enjoying writing pieces like this. Those of you who follow the continual lion warfare unfolding in the Sabi Sands may have a sour taste in the back of your throats as you read this…
On Saturday night/Sunday morning one of the Sparta orphan cubs was killed. Her body was found on the morning game drive and has left a gaping hole in the Londolozi family.
I consider myself part-lion, so any death in the local lion population hits me quite hard. Sadly, the newest death hits on very emotional strings as we have just posted a piece about this very lion. In this last post we spoke about how encouraging things had been for these orphans and how the Sparta Pride were appearing to be ‘looking after’ the two.
We have stitched together the events (tracks and sightings) that brought about the demise of this 8 month old cub. I will briefly mention these below…
On the evening of the 9th June three Sparta females were left hunting in the eastern portions of Londolozi. Together with these three females was one of the two orphans. She was desperately trailing the adults, trying to keep up with them as the manouvered around the area of Fluffies and Plaque Clearing.
Earlier that day we had followed the three Tsalala adults (the Tsalala Sisters together with the Original Tailless Female) as they were being chased across the width of Londolozi by the Scar-Nose Majingilane. They managed to make good distance between the male and eventually lost him in the Sand River. The three exhausted lionesses had run over 10km in the late morning heat. They finally settled down to sleep in the Sand River near to Plaque Rock.
On the morning of the 10th June the remains of a wildebeest were found on Plaque Clearing. Tracks suggested this animal had been killed by the Sparta Pride that previous night.
The Tailless Female and the rest of the Tsalala Pride were found in the western portions of Londolozi. When tracked backwards it became evident that these animals had run directly through Plaque Clearing and the one lioness in particular, the Original Tailless Female, was incredibly fat and still had a face covered in dry blood. All three lionesses were constantly roaring and looked evidently distressed. We knew when we found them that there had been some encounter that night!
On closer investigation of the wildebeest carcass the dead lion cub was found. It’s back and front right leg had been snapped/broken. It’s front paws were still caked in blood suggesting that it had been feeding on the wildebeest carcass, a mere two hundred meters away.
It is our understanding that on account of all these clues we can safely say that the Sparta Pride had managed to kill the wildebeest. Whilst feeding on the well earned meal the Tsalala Females, who were only about 500 meters away at the time, heard the commotion and arrived on the scene. It was a case of three on three. The older, stronger Tsalala females must have won the battle and chased the Sparta Pride off their meal. In the process they caught the young orphan cub and easily dispatched of this little girl. None of the Sparta Pride members were found on the morning drive so we hope this is the only casualty.
In my books this goes down to pure bad luck. The Sparta Pride had been lured into the outskirts of the Tsalala Pride territory because of a wildebeest herd. Hungry bellies will take risks. The Tsalala females had been chased by males into an area in which they have spent very little time of late. The Sparta Pride must have made a great kill. Completely unbeknown to them was that their ‘rival’ pride was resting 500 meters away!
Many say that lions are lazy and that they sleep all day! It’s only when you know the full story that you have full respect and an understanding for what these animals go through. It is not easy being a lion!
Written by Adam Bannister