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Jess Shillaw

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Jess was born in Kwazulu/Natal but grew up in Cape Town. Having an innate love for all things wild but getting to spend little time in the bush while growing up, she headed straight for the Lowveld after school. She completed a guiding ...

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on The Dedication of a Mother Lioness

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Incredible observations, Jess. I’ve always ranked lionesses (and not male lions) as in my top favorites to view. Looks like I’ll have to scrutinize their behavior more closely now.

In relation to this post: I witnessed something special in the Maasai Mara years ago. I had observed the Maternity Pride for 12 days. They consisted of 2 males, 7 females and 13 cubs. The males of this pride wanted to take over the pride of some other male. There were 2 lionesses and some cubs. When the male wasn’t present the 2 Maternity Pride males started to attack the 2 lionesses. These lionesses were so fierce that one ripped out the tongue of one of the males. I was flabbergasted. The 2 males went, but unfortunately we found out the next morning that they tried again and killed the cubs of these 2 lionesses.

Thank you for sharing your observations and thoughts on the female dynamics of the pride. The power that lies in their motherhood and maternal instinct…. As you noted, seems unusual to attack a pridemates cub. An indication of some instability within and outside the pride at this moment….?

Hi Jess, firstly many compliments for the writing skills and the wonderful pictures. All very accurate and spectacular. I have worked as a behavioural consultant, ethologist, I can only suppose that she may have misinterpreted her niece’s actions, have taken a graded signal for wrong, or their communication went wrong. and, in addition, the stress she’s been under worsened her reaction. Perhaps the cub did behave, or tried to, in a slightly menacing way to her own cubs, or it may have happened in the past. We will never know. She is a super mum, I’m sorry for the cub and hope those lioness will find a deserved stability. The cubs are just adorable!

You’ve written an interesting blog about this particular Ntsevu lioness Jess and I’m wondering if she’s the one I saw on her own with two quite young cubs during my visit in April. We saw her twice in the same area and neither time was she responsive when hearing the calls of other lions. I identified one as a female but couldn’t see the other from the right angle to determine the sex. She did appear to be an older lioness…. So it is fascinating that you’ve been observing this particular female’s seemingly lack of close interaction with the rest of the females and aggressive behavior at times towards the males, whilst protecting the cubs. I hope you’ll continue to keep us informed on the continuing developments within the Ntsevu Pride!

This is all so fascinating Jess! Thanks so much for this account, and I’m looking forward to hear of any developments within the pride!

Hi Jess, this certainly is a questionable situation with the lioness with the two cubs reaction. I think your theory that the young lioness could be her previous cub and she is reprimanding the young lioness to leave the cubs alone. Also with the other cubs ,the lioness with the two cubs , is very protective over the cubs. She also kept her own cubs away from the group because she is over protective and wants to keep them safe.

Very interesting, Jess. If only they could tell us……..!

Jess, what an interesting story about the lioness and her cubs. It is curious that she attacked another cub which is now missing and presumed dead. Behavior among the pride is fascinating to observe. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Interesting behavior, indeed.

Senior Digital Ranger

Very interesting observations, Jess! She will be an interesting girl to follow. I hope to see her when we visit.

Jess, thanks for sharing this interesting and intense story! It was sad to hear about a lost cub and interesting to hear your observations of this particular mother’s behavior. We think it was her protective instincts kicking in on those occasions!

Fascinating behavior but so so sad about the cubbie that she injured and appears to be lost. Lions never fail to perplex me though. Seems like we can throw the Lion Rule Book right out the window entirely.

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