Rusha's rise
May 15 2012

Temi 11 May

Temi

The afternoon of 11th May found the Dambwa pride resting close to water pan 3. Kela and Zulu seemed to be getting on cosily together, but Kela’s popularity didn’t end there.  Temi had been sitting about 20m away from the rest of the group and when she decided to come and sit with her pride.  She first went to Loma, sniffed and then moved onto Leya… looked down at the resting lioness and once more carried on through the crowd until she picked out Kela. A clear favourite of the youngest female in the group she went to great pains to initiate a lengthy head rub on one of the oldest females before flopping down in front of her and continuing to nuzzle her paw.

Zulu, Kela & Temi

Zulu, Kela, Temi

A fire in the site several weeks ago – which entered from outside – has seen half the site suddenly denuded of the towering walls of grass which has helped hide game and lions alike for the last four months. Thankfully, as we’ve only just come out of the rainy season, the grass is still quite green and so the fire was slow burning and all animals easily avoided the flames before it burnt itself out. When we arrived in the afternoon it seemed feasible that this extra visibility had possibly resulted in a small kill such as impala or puku as Loma, Leya and Rusha’s snouts were being bothered by flies – and the left side of Kwandi’s face was blackened with soot, although we couldn’t find any confirmation that this was the case.

Kwandi

Kwandi

Over the next few days the lions split their time between alternate ends of the site with sightings occurring in Kariba and Sahara and were found yesterday afternoon with bulbous bellies at Waterpan 2. This morning (15th) they were sprawled throughout a thicket in Chisamu. Something we noticed a while ago is that the older pride females are starting to respond more and more to the youngest ones; Rusha and Temi. Rusha’s rise through the pride’s ranks seems to have continued as increasingly we’re seeing her lead moves, and the group responding. Her social interactions are starting to look more like Kwandi’s as well, the traditional dominant female among the group, with more social interactions received than initiated. Although it’s probably a little bit early in the day to make any confident predictions about this, but Kwandi might want to watch her back.

Rusha with the rest of the pride

Rusha

One explanation for this could be her size; compared to the rest of the females she’s a monster – she’s even starting to catch up with Zulu in terms of stature and sheer bulk! And as the lions in the Dambwa pride are all now approaching four years old and adulthood, it appears they seem to be settling into their roles within the pride. And once more today Rusha proved her boldness of character.  When we arrived this morning with the lions so well concealed, lying down in the tall grass, we didn’t see them until we were only 5 to 10 metres away. After moving the vehicle a more respectful distance from them, Rusha made sure to stand guard from this noisy intrusion as her pride settled back down, before finding herself a more shady spot to rest in.

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