The indomitable Hercules Pride was spotted looking as fierce as ever as they chowed down on a buffalo carcass recently. This elusive pride is always a treat to see, and due to their scarcity, we only catch up with them every so often when they venture out of their mostly untraversed territory. The 4 subadults are looking fantastic, clearly following in the footsteps of the two large lionesses and the Trilogy males, one of which sired these cubs almost 2 years ago!
An impenetrable glare from a Hercules lioness as she takes a break from her feast of buffalo. The two adult lionesses of this pride are large, and their reputation precedes them. When these 4 subadults were only cubs, the lionesses were undoubtedly aggressive, and they never stuck around to be seen. Thankfully now, we get to enjoy sightings like this, but there is still that threatening glint in their eyes, reminding us who they are.
A day prior to this epic encounter with these top predators, we spotted the Hercules Pride lazing happily in the early evening. The pride of 6 assumed the “flat cat” position, with the young males lying on their backs with their legs flopping comfortably to either side. As the day cooled down, they began to engage in the ritualised behaviour of yawning, nuzzling one another, and stretching. They were clearly getting ready to hunt!
After a night-time hunt, the lions landed a buffalo, which they were thoroughly enjoying when we found them again in the morning. The pride was greedily tucking in to their kill, but sent a golden stare our way every once in a while. These subadults were first spotted in March 2015, when they were merely glimpsed before the adult lioness snarled aggressively at us and sent her cubs running into the coverage of the bush. At that time the young cubs were only a few months old. Now, the 3 males and 1 female are spectacular subadults. It appeared that all the members of the pride got to eat their fill. Usually, the scene of a lion kill is a place of aggression between individuals. 6 Impressive lions fighting for their share can often lead to growling, swatting, and swiping at one another.
There was still plenty of flesh on the carcass, so we assumed the pride would be there for a while! Previously, we would have been forced to give the Hercules Pride a lot of space as they were so uncomfortable in the presence of vehicles. There territory lies in private property, and not many vehicles have access to the area, meaning that these lions were not habituated from an early age.
Nothing like ending a big meal with a snooze! The survival of all 4 cubs in the Hercules Pride is a fantastic show of how successful the lionesses have been in raising their young in the early stages of life, and how the pride works together to keep well fed and avoid conflict.
The 3 young males of the Hercules Pride are sired by one of the Trilogy males, of which there is only one left, and he has moved out of the area. These males are still very vulnerable to other lions, such as the Mapoza. If they come into contact with the Mapoza, there is a chance there will be a fight, which could end badly for the Hercules Pride. However, if this pride continues to live in the shadows, and grows into a fantastic pride of 6 with 3 leading males, the Mapozas should probably watch their backs! Here is to many more sightings of these magnificent cats in the Klaserie!
Take a look back at our history of Hercules Pride sightings over the past almost 2 years:
March 2015: Who are the Hercules Pride?
July 2015: Hercules Pride & Trilogy Dine Together
October 2015: Hercules Pride Kills Ross Breakaway Cubs
December 2015: Hercules Pride Kills a Buffalo at Africa on Foot
September 2016: Hercules Pride “Cubs” Growing Up
September 2016: Hercules Pride Hunting Buffalo