What is the true test of a pride’s success? Is it the quality of their hunting prowess, the size of their territory or where that territory lies? Is it how many buffalo they are able to kill or who sires their young? Although these are all highly important factors, I think one of the greatest tests must be how many cubs a pride is able to raise to independence. It is only with the addition of the younger generation that the core natal group of females can grow in strength and the genetics of the pride can be carried further afield by independent roaming males. As the four Tsalala youngsters approach two years of age, can we start to say that the newest litter of cubs have been successful or is it still too soon to tell?
The first two years of these lions’ lives have been far from easy and yet it seems they are stronger for it. Looking back at photographs of them from about a year and a half ago, they were looking rather scruffy and malnourished. Their mother would sometimes leave them unattended for up to two days at a time and for the first few months of their lives, they were much smaller in size than their age would suggest.
Looking at these young, robust males now, you would never say that they had a rather difficult start in life. The size of their tracks often has us second-guessing ourselves, wondering if bigger, adult males are on the property. Although their playful antics remain the same and they are often seen lazily lagging behind the rest of the pride, there has been a shift in their demeanor from when I started seeing these youngsters just under a year ago.
Having said all of this, they certainly are not out of danger just yet. With their fathers, the Majingilane, continuing to stay west of Londolozi, the Tsalala pride is left with little protection from various newcomers to the area. With bigger and older coalitions such as the Birmingham males, Matshapiri pride, Styx and even the slightly older Sparta youngsters being around, the future is uncertain for these three young males.
Have a look at the incredible footage below of the Tsalala pride attempting to catch a buffalo in the river very recently. You can see that the females are doing all the work, risking everything in order to catch the meal with very little to no help from the young males. Although it is a process and a continuous learning curve, it seems these young lions will have to learn fast over the next year as their period of independence swiftly approaches.
The next while will in all likelihood be tough for them and as they mature into physically stronger male lions, it will be interesting to see if they can also grow into a more active playing, mature role within the pride. We watch with bated breath as to how they will fair in the near future.
What are your thoughts and how do you think these youngsters will do over the next few years?
Written by Amy Attenborough, Londolozi Ranger
Filmed by Sergey Gorshkov, Londolozi Guest, and Byron Serrao, Londolozi Ranger.
Filed under Photography Wildlife
Interesting blog Amy. Great pics of the youngsters.
Great blog Amy and I love the pictures. I hope they will continue to do well and grow into strong, powerful adults just like their fathers are. I first saw them as very small cubs, struggling to keep up with the rest of the pride, so I’m very happy to see that they have done so well to survive.
most people including those who go to safari or are into so called wildlife do not know survival rate of lions or leopards is really low to zero . and if they are male , well they will be ousted by their dad if they are lucky. if not they will be killed by invading males.
and all the risk and injuries a lion or any predator must go thru just to get a meal. if the number of the clan of hyenas is high , their much needed hard earned meal will be taken away . and if they are really unlucky , cubs nearby will be torn or eaten alive .
and no one ever think about what does truly happen to aged or aging lioness or leopard or cheetah . like old folks these cats will loose some teeth , bad joints or broken bones and weaken muscles and slower speed along with poorer eye sight. an aging professional football player at least has doctors and retirement funds to care for him , but not an old lioness or leopard. old lioness often if not killed by new male or ousted by her own daughter or her own son or be kept out from a small meal.
It’s hard to believe that those cute cuddly little cubs are turning into those great big Majingilane offspring. They are simply stunning just like their dads and half Sparta brothers. I hope they stay safe. An update on the Sparta boys would be great to hear about too. Wondering if have they officially left the Sparta pride. Great blog!!
Great pictures. I remember that last one where the young males were hanging behind and playing with one of the young lionesses while the older lionesses were crossing. Such a great experience for us. Great memories.