Lion update

Portrait of the older unknown male - Gary Hill

Portrait of the older unknown male - Gary Hill

Last year was not always a time of plenty for the Styx pride. With only two fit adult lionesses hunting for the entire pride, the felines often struggled to bring down large game. In last month’s Game Report, we mentioned that it is about time the sub adult lions of the Styx pride start to contribute more meaningfully to hunts. During the week, the lions managed to successfully hunt an adult female giraffe. This is no easy task, and the hunt would have required strategy and cooperation by the lions. Hopefully it is a sign that the youngsters in the pride are coming of age, and that the lions can enjoy preying on larger prey species more consistently.

Portrait of the unknown young male lion - Gary Hill

Portrait of the unknown young male lion - Gary Hill

The young male has a distinctive scar on his right nostril - Gary Hill

The young male has a distinctive scar on his right nostril - Gary Hill

Unknown young male lion feeding on giraffe carcass stolen from the Styx pride - Gary Hill

Unknown young male lion feeding on giraffe carcass stolen from the Styx pride - Gary Hill

The lions fed on the giraffe for three days before an unknown male lion was attracted to the area. The Styx lions were not prepared to fight for the little remains of the carcass, and they moved off, leaving the male to feed. This male appears to be about five years of age, and his identity is still a mystery at this stage. He is not the only unfamiliar male lion that has been moving through the property of late. There has been another older male, perhaps around seven or eight years of age, that has been trailing a large herd of buffalo in the northeastern parts of the property. This older male has very worn teeth indicating that he may be even older, yet he has almost no scarring on his face. It could be that he has not run into much trouble in his life and has not been dominant over a pride. This would explain his lack of scars.

The older male has worn teeth, yet little scarring on his face - Gary Hill

The older male has worn teeth, yet little scarring on his face - Gary Hill

The older unknown male lion has a prominent 'gape' on the right side of his mouth - Gary Hill

The older unknown male lion has a prominent 'gape' on the right side of his mouth - Gary Hill

Both of these males have been moving throughout the territory of the Manyelethi males. It is understandable for them to be able to lurk on the fringes of the Manyelethi male’s domain. These males have a huge territory, and it is a tall order for them to keep a watertight grip on their kingdom. However this male lion managed to sneak right within the core territory of the Styx pride and steal the giraffe carcass. With their young cubs present, this could have easily been a disaster for the pride. The Manyelethi males have been spending much of their time to the west, opening up a huge portion of their territory to intruders. We invite you to have a look at the pictures and see if you recognize either of the unknown males.

Two weeks ago a Cape hunting dog was sadly ambushed by the Styx pride whilst feeding on a duiker. The dog was one of two, and the remaining canine was left howling alone into the night. Early one morning, on arrival at the scene where the Styx pride had killed the giraffe, we found yet another carcass belonging to a Cape hunting dog. We believe that the carcass belongs to the second dog in the pairing. At least its period of loneliness is over.

Two lionesses from the Marthly pride spent the early parts of last week feeding on a zebra close to large rocky outcrop known as Stwise. The remainder of the pride did not show up at the carcass. Perhaps they already had another kill nearby.

The Fourways pride had a busy week. We have often remarked on the incredible distance that these lions travel, and in the past while has been no different, as they ventured from the northern boundary to the Kapen River in quick time. The Eyrefield pride, as with the Manyelethi males, has been spending time in the west. This leaves any of their territory to the east of the river unoccupied, with the Fourways lions enjoying their absence. They have been roaring frequently in the area, a sure sign of their confidence.

Gary Hill

Ranger – MalaMala Game Reserve

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