After a very hot day, the berg winds turned and brought in cooler overcast weather for two days. The windy night offers good hunting opportunities for predators as their scent is often carried off by the wind and the sound of the wind masks their advances towards potential prey. With this in mind, we couldn’t help but hope that the Ntsevu Pride had been on the move that night.
The Ntsevu Pride has been going through an interesting time of late as Matt Rochford recently tried to break down in this lion dynamics blog. Essentially the core of the Ntsevu Pride has five adult females and ten cubs born between December 2022 and February 2023, we believe that another female has given birth to four more cubs that have only recently been introduced to the rest of the older cubs. Hopefully, we will get to see these cubs soon. There is another group of between two and three females that had split off with three cubs born around March/April 2023. Over the last little while it has been difficult to keep track of which lions are where and what the current status of this smaller group is. It seems that the Ndzhenga Males have been spending most of their time with the five lionesses and their ten cubs. We set off on a recent morning game drive in search of any lions hoping to see some of the cubs.
Early on into the drive, we were excited to come across some fresh tracks of at least three females crossing the road. Our strategy was to drive along the road in the direction of where the lions were heading hoping to find more tracks, if we did we would continue with this plan until there were no tracks coming out of the block. We would then loop back to where the last set of tracks were and would then follow them into the block hoping to find the lions somewhere there. So after looping up ahead on one of the roads, we were thrilled when we came around a corner to find two Ndhzenga Males, two females and eight cubs. Out in the open resting.
When we arrived all of the cubs were lying in a huddle to avoid the chill of the wind. Soon one cub got up to greet one of the females which triggered a knock-on reaction with all the youngsters following suit. Before we knew it they were all up and about.
One cub decided that one of the males looked like a good jungle gym to go play on. It is always fascinating to watch the dynamics of young cubs with the dominant males as they can be less patient with the playful cubs. After arriving alongside the male, the cub gently pawed the male to test his mood and reaction and then proceeded to jump on him before running away. Thankfully the Ndzhenga Male seemed unphased with this curious little cub.
Soon the rest of the cubs decided it was play time and began chasing and stalking each other through the long grass. This is an important part of their social bonding and skill development needed for hunting and survival as adults one day.
It is great to see these cubs growing in stature and character and watching them interact with each other is hugely entertaining. We can only hope that the Ndzhenga Males are able to hold on to their territory and fend off any rivals moving in to attempt to claim the territory and the Ntsevu Pride. If they hold strong then hopefully we will see the mothers raise these cubs successfully and we will see the Ntsevu Pride grow once again.