Three different Ntsevu lionesses were found at separate points across Londolozi on a morning drive recently. Two of those lionesses are currently rearing small cubs. The third was mating with the Othawa male near the river, way further east than anyone from Londolozi has seen that male lion before.
Tracks of the rest of the pride were heading into the central parts of the reserve.
The fracturing of the Ntsevu pride that we have long anticipated may well be upon us; there are just simply too many moving parts within the pride dynamics for things to continue as normal. The adult lionesses are coming back into oestrus or have already had new litters, the Birmingham males are ageing and the Othawa male seems to be pressing deeper into Londolozi all the time.
Although it’s not like the pride will split apart from today and we won’t see them as a whole again (at least in the current numbers), with lionesses denning small cubs at different points on the reserve and therefore forced to spend time apart from the bulk of the pride, the days may well be numbered in which we see a unified front of 20 lions all on the move together. (Or is it 19, I can never remember).
The lionesses and newest cubs are going to be seen solo a lot more we think, forced to spend time away from the pride as they remain close to their cubs in order to provide them with milk.
Maybe they will all reunite, but their movements – or at least their numbers when we find them – are likely to be extremely inconsistent this summer. Three lionesses here, the sub-adults and a lioness there, two Birmingham males with a Mhangeni female… it will be hard to keep track, and since a lioness for the most part look very much like another, I guess we’ll have to be extra careful with the calls we make when it comes to identifying who’s who.