Game Drive Blog Volume 26 – Update on the Western Pride

We’ve posted on social media over the last month or so about events relating to the Western Pride however, we wanted to be more expansive about some impactful events. Nature can be cruel, we’ve all heard the phrase “survival of the fittest” and their story is most definitely in tune with that adage.

There were two sub-adult females, both born around August 2017, key members of the developing pride. Unfortunately, there was an altercation with three nomadic males who came onto the Timbavati from Kruger Park and one of the sub-adults was killed. Her body was found by the anti-poaching unit one evening and the story was shared with us. Very sad to have a female who had almost reached two years old be killed in such a way. Even though the survival rate of lion cubs is very low (one in three on average), we had high hopes that both of these females would get to adulthood and strengthen the pride substantially. This was not to be. The images of the two sub-adults together were taken the last time we saw the pride together, a day before she was killed. There was such a playful vibe between the two youngsters that it made hearing the news that much more difficult for those who witnessed their antics. This brought the sub-pride down to 5 adults and 1 sub adult, while the other adult was still separated with her cubs, even though they had joined forces a few times before then, they hadn’t fully regrouped. At this sighting we also noticed that the other sub-adult had a nasty wound on her front left paw and she was limping badly. We believe this was sustained around the same time her cousin was killed. She has recovered well since and seems to be fully fit again now.

The other major development is with the lioness who’s had her first litter of cubs. When we first had the pleasure of seeing the little ones there were five in total. They did not look the healthiest of specimens, however, it’s to be expected when lions give birth in the winter months, a much harsher time to bring youngsters into the world. Lions have skin mites on their fur from birth, if their immune system is threatened then these mites can take over and cause mange and skin disease. As time goes on, providing the pride are able to kill regularly and eat/drink well, the cubs condition will certainly improve. Some of the guides here, upon seeing the new cubs, reminisced at the state of the youngsters from two years ago – they were in the same boat so to speak and they recovered to be in fantastic condition by the end of their first year. The next time we saw the cubs, they were down to three, two had perished sadly. We don’t know how and could speculate with reasons like malnourishment or being killed by the same males that took the older female, yet we don’t know for sure. It’s not unusual to lose cubs prior to three months of age so having three left was seen as a positive as opposed to a negative.

The Western Pride is now fully reunited and consists of six adult females, one sub-adult and three almost six-month-old cubs. We are almost certain that all of the cubs are male, but mistakes have been made before so don’t hold us to that! They do sometimes disappear for days at time, which of course they’re allowed to be, this is the wilderness after all, but they always come back to remind us they’re in charge.


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