The Styx pride has traveled considerable distance since we found them on Tuesday morning around the Fourways Open Area. We had a frustrating time the following day trying to find the pride, and this was only achieved during the evening. The three young cubs had been stashed at Ostrich Koppies and it would seem they would have to wait there until the adults could provide a meal. We finally found the hunting party later on who were chasing giraffe at Picadilly Triangle, an area renowned for its large concentrations of animals. We had to be careful about where we were placed when the lions made a move on the giraffe, and sent them running in all directions. Lions hunting giraffe can be a very dangerous affair since they have been known to run into vehicles amidst the panic, and serious accidents can result. The pride did not have any luck with the giraffe, and we left them shortly after after they started to settle down at the prominent rocky outcrop known as ‘Stwise’, on which our radio tower is perched, and where many a sunset and sunrise has been enjoyed.
Finally the lions enjoyed some success and the young lioness had a reason to fetch her cubs! Early during the morning of the 25th, we found the Styx pride in the Mlowathi River just opposite the Main Camp. All of the members of the pride were present except for the oldest lioness, otherwise known as ‘Grandma Styx’. It is no surprise that the old lioness was absent. The pride had been from Fourways to Picadilly Triangle, to Stwise and back, and the old lioness must have stopped for break along the way. Her movement is becoming increasingly inhibited, and it remains to be seen how much time the stalwart has left. The pride was in the process of finishing off an adolescent waterbuck that they must have killed a few hours earlier. It was a well-earned meal, since the lions were looking fairly thin in the days before. Waterbuck have a reputation for their smelly, musky odour, which is released from glands in their skin. The function of this gland is not well known, but it is suggested that it helps to waterproof the coats of these animals. In turn, the smelly glands are believed to deter predators. This is up for debate and there is little doubt that a lion is going to pass up on a waterbuck, or any other prey item, when the opportunity presents itself. This was certainly the case here, and the lions had enjoyed a good meal.
The young lioness had removed a limb from the carcass and was feeding gently along with her three cubs. After their mother lay down, the cubs continued to feed until their meal was stolen by another lioness. This did not seem to bother them too much, as they resorted to their usual playful antics and explored around the carcass where some of the other pride members were still feeding.
The MalaMala Ranger Team.
PLEASE NOTE: Animals on MalaMala are named after their territories. This means that a) only the predators have been given names and b) we only know the animals according to the names we have given them, as they are based on the territories within MalaMala’s boundaries.