On the 27th the pride was found guzzling away on an exceedingly hot afternoon at waterpan 3. As we settled the research vehicle in the shade we weren’t expecting much activity from the pride in this heat. Whilst the lions didn’t exactly get up and do the can-can they were in fine social form and in the first half an hour alone we recorded a haul of social information that would usually be worthy of a week’s worth of observations. Even the normally-reserved Kwandi and Leya were getting in on the action and sharing a little love around with their pride mates.
Males receive more far social interactions than they initiate as females use social behaviours directed at the males as an appeasement function – and Zulu is no exception. However, having received his fair share of attention he moved over to Kela and greeted her before sitting next to her. A few seconds later, Kwandi came over to the pair, head rubbed Zulu twice before inserting herself between her sister and the boss. It seemed unfeasible in such heat that they would want to snuggle so tightly together, but the trio remained sitting on top of one another for the rest of the afternoon.
On the 29th the pride spent a relaxing morning in Kariba. Despite heading towards winter, the temperatures have taken a sharp hike over the last week and as the lions lazed all morning in the shade, we couldn’t really blame them for not wanting to do much of anything.
From left to right: Temi, Rusha, Kwandi, Kela
On the 31st we found them along the boundary road near Puku Dambo. Rusha was in cantankerous form; first growling at Temi when she approached for a greeting, and later in the afternoon snarling at Zulu when he tried tha same. Someone was obviously having a bad day. We’d spotted a small herd of impala close by whilst we’d been looking for them and Kela gave us some hope that perhaps a hunt might be on. If it wasn’t the impala then there was definitely something that continued to disrupt her sleep as she repeatedly bolted upright and scanned the area whilst sniffing the air.
After several false starts she suddenly jumped to her feet and, almost simultaneously, Zulu followed suit – it wasn’t apparent though if he’d heard/smelt whatever she had or if her sudden movement had just startled him to his feet. She padded down the road about 20 metres, before stopping and scanning but after several minutes returned to the group.
It was a lazy remainder of the afternoon until Temi rose and greeted Zulu and Rusha (this time Rusha obliged). This was the catalyst for a move East led by Zulu. With the height of the grass as it is at the moment we have to keep relatively close tabs on the pride during moves – otherwise we simply lose them and very often don’t find them again. A bend in the road afforded us the chance to see the lions stationary, gazing intently into the forested boundary area. Because of the proximity with which we would have to stay to monitor what could potentially be a hunt we decided this was our cue to leave and let the lions get on with it.