We have had the odd glimpse of the Tsalala female and her youngster, however nothing to write home about.
I personally haven’t seen the two of them since prior to their horrific encounter with the Ntsevu Pride. Now, months after that, the duo is thriving.
It is phenomenal to see how the youngster has grown. Born in March 2019, she is now just over 17 months. At this age, she is following her mother around almost 100% of the time. This means she is gaining valuable hunting experience from observing her mother stalk and chase prey. It doesn’t mean she has lost her playful side though… We witnessed her running around with a small branch in her mouth, throwing it in the air and even presenting the stick to her mother. This play will provide valuable skills for later in life.
When the two of them did eventually move off, they happened to bump in to an unsuspecting herd of impala. For the first time, we witnessed the younger lioness attempt to assist her mother in the hunt. Within seconds of seeing the herd – that was still unaware of the lions – the Tsalala female dropped into a stalk and looped ahead of the unsuspecting antelope. Upon seeing her mother’s behaviour change, her daughter also dropped into a stalk and swiftly manoeuvred into a flanking position on the opposite side of the herd. Seeing this silent and effective teamwork is a phenomenal show of instinct and prowess.
The impala herd spotted the young lion quickly. This was arguably the plan from the beginning, as impala were sent sprinting straight towards the Tsalala female. She crouched in position ready to lurch out at one of the fleeing antelope. Unfortunately for the pair though, none of the impala were quite close enough for the Tsalala female to grasp. I’m almost certain that if they didn’t have such full bellies, they would have put in a bit more effort!
If the pair continues to stick to the Sand River and Manyelethi River like they have been, they should steer clear of other lions for the time being. Are we seeing the real start of the regrowth of the Tsalala Pride?