The change of season brings much excitement to MalaMala Game Reserve. After another wet summer, the dry season is now well and truly on the way. The change of season means that waterholes, mud pans and small dams will be no more as winter takes hold. This is when the Sand River comes alive, allowing all creatures to quench thirst from its perennial waters.
The onset of the dry season also means that it is time for the Eyrefield pride to spend more time on MalaMala. The four lionesses and seven cubs will leave the expansive plains to our west and return to the Sand River around Flockfield. These grounds offer the pride a steady water source and abundant prey species. Large herds of buffalo that will frequent the river are their main attraction and, if last year is anything to go by, the buffalo will once again be under constant threat.
It is this area where the lionesses feel most comfortable raising their cubs. Upon their return late last week, we were excited to see that the oldest lioness – 14 years and 4 months old – is heavily pregnant and should give birth within the next short while. Less than a year ago, three of the four lionesses gave birth to cubs. The seven cubs occupied den sites on the banks of the Sand River opposite Rattray’s Camp. Will the experienced older lioness adopt the same strategies that the pride has used in past winter seasons? We will certainly be monitoring her movements closely and will let you know how she develops.
The increased presence of the Eyrefield pride also means that we will see more of the Manyelethi males who seem to spend much of their time with them. This week all four brothers were found in their company.
Ranger, MalaMala Game Reserve