Marthly Pools is one of the most beautiful spots on the Londolozi property. This series of semi-permanent waterbodies in the predominantly dry riverbed is found at a sharp bend in the Manyelethi, below a line of rocky outcrops, and the riparian vegetation here consists of some ancient and massive Albizia and Jackalberry trees.
The place has a unique energy about it, and has long been viewed as the traditional home of the Tsalala pride; over the last few months, it has certainly lived up to that reputation, with so much activity in the area that it’s almost a tap-in for vehicles heading out to look for lions.
As has been mentioned in previous posts, more particularly about leopards, the koppies (rocky outcrops) in the area are prime denning habitat, with multiple rocky cracks and bolt-holes for cubs to hide in. Whilst the older lioness of the pair currently operating on Londolozi (the rest of the pride remains east of us at the moment) initially denned slightly upstream in the Manyelethi in a field of huge boulders, she has subsequently moved densites to the area around Marthly pools, and sightings have been had of her two cubs playing high on the koppies, as well as down in the riverbed on occasion.
It is suspected that the younger lioness is denning her litter in the same area as well. Don Heyneke recently captured some stunning footage of the lioness moving densites across the rocks in the riverbed at Marthly Pools, but the litter hasn’t been seen since. Being tiny, they are not likely to be glimpsed without the mother being there, and as she is often away hunting, we don’t expect proper sightings of them for some weeks.
The Matimba males have regularly been in attendance, spending much of their time in the vicinity of the koppies; if not actually with the lionesses then close by. Although this benefits the females from a protective standpoint, it is rather a disincentive to hunt, as the males will most likely steal whatever animal the females manage to bring down should they be in the vicinity.
This morning the two adult females were tracked to a position about a kilometre north-east of Marthly Pools, where they had brought down a young kudu sometime during the night. They had already been to fetch the older cubs, and all were feeding when they were found, although in the thick bush the trackers got quite close to the pride before they saw them; their first warning that the lions were there was a low growl from one of the lionesses.
As a kudu calf does not offer much meat, by this evening, or at the very latest tomorrow morning, I strongly suspect the pride will be back at Marthly Pools. They can drink from the pools, lounge in the shade, and stash the cubs before once more heading out on the hunt.
The time is fast approaching when the young males in the dispersed portion of the pride have to head out on their own. Reports indicate that two of them have in fact begun separating, spending more time alone, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this winter sees them leaving for good.
What that will mean for the Tailless female and the sub-adult female I’m not sure, but I strongly suspect they will rejoin the two lionesses currently based around Marthly Pools. We hope that should this happen, it will be seamless for the cubs…