2013 was fantastic compared to recent years in terms of finding and viewing the Marthly Pride. A large portion of their territory is situated to the north and west of our boundary, hence their prolonged absence at times. For quite some time, the lions were seldom viewed on MalaMala. In fact, during 2012 there were only six confirmed sightings compared to a total of forty eight sightings between January and November in 2013. This represents a phenomenal comeback to MalaMala. The confluence of the Manyelethi and Sand Rivers has proved to be their favourite hunting ground during the winter months, while Stwise and Poliwe provide ideal cover for new born cubs.
January 2013’s game report states that the pride consisted of the three adult lionesses and two sub adult females. However, August arrived with reports of a lioness carcass found in western Marthly, and after viewing the pride without the presence of the fifteen year old lioness it was confirmed that she was dead. At this point it was apparent that only one sub adult female remained, alongside the eleven year old sisters – of which one was heavily pregnant. The dynamics enabled us to conclude that pride consisted of just two lionesses and one sub adult female. After assuming that the loss of two lions during 2013 would put a serious dent in the prides well-being, we were once again surprised to see the lions bounce back.
The later part of 2013 saw the lionesses make several kudu, bushbuck, waterbuck and nyala kills – all around the Sand River stretching well into the territories of the Eyrefield and Styx Prides. The constant food supply, as well as frequent protection from the Manyelethi Males allowed one of the eleven year old lionesses to give birth and begin to raise four young cubs. The cubs are five months old, and are being viewed often. Seven lions in the pride is a solid foundation to work from.
The tale continues.