Driving out of camp, our vehicle had the goal of an exciting morning of finding lions. We were lucky enough to find some tracks fairly early on. From that point on we spent the vast majority of the morning tracking them. The tracks were fresh and so we did not want to give up too easily – they seemed to be just at our fingertips. As the heat of the day started to set in we decided to take a break, drink some coffee and stretch our legs – the best way to regain energy and excitement.
After our break, we hopped back in the vehicle. We checked the nearest water hole in case they had decided to rest now that it was a bit hotter.
Unexpectedly we bumped into one of the Birmingham Males at the water’s edge.
The scene seemed tense, he was standing tall, head raised, almost as though performing some sort of dominance display. We then noticed he had been chasing something, he started trotting with purpose. As we got closer, we noticed he was in fact chasing the Ntsevu Sub-Adult lions.
The lions looked tired, every time the Sub-Adults gained enough distance from the male they would try to rest in the shade. Soon the second Birmingham Male joined his brother. They moved together as a force as the chase began again. It was amazing to see how the one Birmingham brother waiting for his sibling to get closer knowing that they are stronger together.
Being the fathers of the Ntsevu Sub-Adults, the two dominant males moved with intimidation rather than to act with aggression. The Sub-Adults are maturing and the Young Males will start to try and mate soon. In an effort to prevent inbreeding with their mothers and siblings, the fathers normally drive the Young Males out of the territory and in turn begin the nomadic journey for these young males, as they buy time in order to grow and develop the strength and skills required to one day claim their own territory.
The Sub-Adults felt comfortable enough at a distance and began to rest in the shade. We wondered how long they had been running for or what had happened before this interaction?
There was blood all over the Birmingham Males and the Sub-Adults suggesting that they could have been on a kill or maybe the Sub-Adults made a kill drawing in the Birmingham Males that came to investigate the distress call or the sounds of the Sub-Adults fighting over the kill. This could have led to the chase.
That afternoon they were all found again, still keeping a distance apart. As it got cooler the Sub-Adults got up to drink with the Birmingham Males not too far following them. We lost them all walking into the darkness that evening.
What does this mean for the future of the Ntsevu sub-adults?