When Bob Dylan wrote his famous song The Times They Are A-Changing, I doubt he had lions in mind. Nevertheless, those lyrics certainly apply to the lions of Londolozi and none more so than the Ntsevu Sub-Adult lions. Experience has taught me that lions often defy popular belief and behave in ways we could never have predicted. We have been viewing the ten youngsters on their own for a few weeks, far from the pride and not always together as a whole group – their movements around the reserve have been fascinating to watch. Therefore, I thought now would be a good time to discuss the possible reasons for the split in the pride and what the young lions might get up to next.
Have the Ntsevu Sub-Adults really left the pride and if so, why?
When it comes to lions leaving the pride, the reasoning differs for the males as opposed to the females. Male lions usually leave their natal prides around the age of three to four years and begin a nomadic phase of their lives where they spend a few years maturing. During this nomadic phase the young lions attempt to develop the strength and experience required to hopefully take charge of a pride of their own one day. Therefore, it is fairly safe to assume that the Ntsevu Sub-Adult males are indeed transitioning into their nomadic phase of life. Luckily for these young males, their sisters have decided to tag along for the ride for the time being.
The reasons why young females leave their prides aren’t as clear cut. In many cases, young lionesses will remain and become a fully fledged part of the pride, contributing to hunts and raising cubs of their own. However, it is also common for sub-adult females to leave the pride when their mothers start having new cubs and/or when the pressure on the adults to feed the hungry youngsters becomes too great.
Often the group of females that split off from the pride go on to form a new pride in a different area. In fact, the Ntsevu Pride itself was formed when six of the young Mhangeni Sub-Adult Females split from their pride and moved into a new area. Sometimes, young females even leave the pride and then return to rejoin the pride at a later stage.
In the case of the Ntsevu Sub-Adult Females, I think a combination of their mothers starting to have new litters of cubs and the pressure on the adults to provide food for the ever hungry sub-adults has been the catalyst for the young females to leave the pride, at least for now.
What does the future hold for the Ntsevu Sub-Adults?
“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” – Niels Bohr
The future of the Ntsevu Sub-Adults is anyone’s guess. We could speculate endlessly about the fate that lies in store for this group of young lions and still be incorrect. Thus my prediction comes with a disclaimer – I could well be proven wrong.
With that being said, I expect the Ntsevu Young Males to follow the well-worn path of young male lions and to spend the next few years wandering around the bush attempting to stay out of the way of bigger, more formidable male lions. Should the Ntsevu Young Males survive this treacherous time of their lives, there is a decent chance of them being able to challenge for a pride of their own. Should all five of these males survive, they could well become a lion coalition force to be reckoned with.
The female Ntsevu Sub-Adults’ future is less clear. Numbering six females in total, the young lionesses could well go on to start their own pride in new unchartered territories. This route will not be easy but if their own mothers are anything to go by, the Ntsevu Young Females have a decent chance of making it on their own. Should the young lionesses not opt for the ‘new pride’ route, there is always a chance that they can rejoin their mothers and form a multigenerational pride. Prides consisting of mothers and daughters are not uncommon and it remains to be seen whether or not the Ntsevu Females will allow their daughters to rejoin the pride. Weighing up both options, I get the feeling that the young lionesses might move on from the pride of their birth for good but only time will tell.
We are really looking forward to the upcoming developments among the lions of the Sabi Sands and I am hopeful that the offspring of the Ntsevu Pride are successful in the future. For now though, the Ntsevu Sub-Adults are doing well and we’ll be sure to post any updates as and when they arise.