Becoming A True Lion Pride

May 12, 2010

It’s a beautiful, crisp morning and I am about 30 meters behind 3 lionesses stalking a Gemsbok (Oryx Gazelle). I always get excited when this happens, even though I know how low their success rate is. The male is watching from a safe distance, a good 300 meters, so he cannot get in the way. The females are barely visible in the knee high grass. Suddenly they are off, almost reaching full speed within 20 meters. They never got close though. The gemsbok made them look silly, and as they come back my way I notice why. They are so fat, overweight, call it what you like’ no wonder they were unsuccessful. But then, how did they get so fat?

They stop and lay down next to my vehicle. The male joins them. They are beautiful, in perfect condition. Actually their condition is too good!? It’s worrying, right? Is it the vegetation (Fynbos) on the reserve which makes them more successful by allowing them to stalk closer,or lay in ambush longer? Or is it good genes, hunting instinct? Could it be because they are just over 3 years and still growing, or are they just eating more than the average lion?

Normally lion will kill a big animal every 3-5 days. This young pride goes on for some weeks knocking down something big almost every second day. Now, months later they are still this fat. It is fascinating to have seen these lion grow since the beginning of 2009, losing their spots and becoming massive predators. Watching the male adapt from being a nomad to moving a bit closer to the girls every week’ wanting to join in on their kill and getting rejected every time. Now the girls respect him and he only leaves them when he is out marking his territory. The females hunt for him and he protects them. They are now a true lion pride. Watching this young pride begin and form on Gondwana has been so rewarding, almost growing together with them, particularly knowing they will be around for a long time.