The fate of the remaining Tsalala lioness has been one of the biggest concerns on everybody’s minds since the legendary sisters, the Tailed and Tailess lionesses died in February and June of this year respectively. The legacy of the Tsalala pride rests squarely on the remaining female’s shoulders. Her three brothers, the Tsalala males, made a brief appearance on Londolozi a few months ago but have been continuing their nomadic lifestyle, dodging older and more dominant male lions as they go.
As a single lioness, the female has had to adapt to a solitary lifestyle, which could pose a challenge for an animal that has grown up as part of a pride. She is not used to having to make decisions by herself, particularly in terms of hunting where she would normally have relied heavily on the experience of the Tailess lioness. As a result, we have seen her walking almost the exact route in the heart of Londolozi where she once walked with the rest of her pride. Could she still be looking for the Tailess female? Or possibly for a potential mate? She has been heard calling on several nights opposite the Londolozi camps.
What we do know is that she has been looking hungry, and was walking around in broad daylight looking for any potential food or hunting opportunities . I saw her twice within a week where she was looking up trees for any old leopard kills and in thickets for any small prey to feed on, while walking through the middle of the day.
This all changed this last week though.
What first appeared to be a cloud of dust at a distance, soon proved to be a herd of wildebeest staring at where one of their herd had just been ambushed by the lioness. She had been waiting in the middle of a bush on the edge of a waterhole that is frequently visited by herds of impala and wildebeest throughout the day. We could see where a branch from the bush had been ripped off and thrown into the clearing as the lioness had burst out into the herd, bringing down an adult cow as it approached the waterhole. We arrived as the wildebeest took its last breaths. While it is always tough to witness a situation like this, it was fantastic to see the lone lioness able to make a substantial kill like this, all alone.
The kill was made at noon on an overcast day. Luckily for the lioness, she was able to feed throughout the afternoon and into the night. The next morning, a few hyena were found in the area. From assessing the tracks at the scene, it appeared that a group of hyena came together overnight and chased her off the kill, finishing whatever was left. She has been since then looking healthy, still wondering large distances by herself, particularly in the northern parts of Londolozi.
Her mother and aunt were renowned for being prolific daytime hunters. If this last Tsalala lioness continues where they left off, the local herbivore population will have to be supremely wary around the clock.