It is exciting Dean. They can become a super pride. When last was there such a big pride in the Sabi Sands?
It’s a common question on and off the vehicle, something I had to follow up on myself; the age and make-up of the Ntsevu pride and their cubs. If anyone has had the pleasure of seeing the full make-up of the Ntsevu pride walk past your vehicle, you know how impressive that pride can look. The main reason being their sheer numbers.
Being the daughters of the Mangheni females, the Ntsevu females were born in 2013, making them six years old. After no cubs in their first litters survived, they gave birth to presumably 15 cubs of which today we only see 11.
Those 11 cubs are all within three months of age. The oldest cubs, born in August 2018 are now around 15 months. Meaning the others are 14 and 13 months respectively. Now don’t take my word for it but I believe after a few viewings that there are eight males and three females (can anyone confirm this?).
The males are already starting to show signs of manes.
This means that if the female cubs remain with their mothers, that Nstevus will become a pride of over nine lionesses. What’s even more exciting – or terrifying -, is there could be a coalition of eight brothers that may form, which will lead to interesting times for lion dynamics within the whole of the Sabi Sand.
Let us not forget that there was also a late litter of four cubs born in June 2019, making them around 5 months old. The sexes of these cubs I cannot confirm yet.
We know that five females gave birth, with the sixth female still unable to fall pregnant but continually seen mating. Could she be infertile?
Former Londolozi ranger and a man I look up to a lot, Ian Thomas, talks about the Power of the Pride and how teamwork leads to the success of the pride.
The mothers have worked as a team with the Birmingham males to raise these cubs to where they are.
Now, there is no saying the pride will stay together but there is a chance they will. In this case, Ntsevu pride could become an even greater force to reckoned with. It will be interesting to watch their movement over the next few months as they have started to travel great distances, needing to hunt more often to feed the pride, but is this sustainable? We have seen the Mhangeni pride push their offspring out once they reached proper independence. Will their daughters the Ntsevu lionesses do the same?
Containing my excitement about the unfolding saga is not easy.