Ross Breakaway Lioness Beaten Up by Hercules Pride

Guests at Africa on Foot and nThambo Tree Camp witnessed the true power of the Ross Breakaway lionesses after watching them feast on a large female buffalo today. These two are adept warthog hunters, and second to that, they’ve been on the scene of many buffalo kills. Often, these kills are aided by the strength of the Trilogy males, but this unbeatable duo has the capacity to take down buffaloes alone. With the current drought, buffaloes are bound to be weaker than normal, giving the lionesses a window of opportunity to prey on a full grown cow. This is a huge victory for the cats, but despite their success, they are under serious pressure from the ferocious and merciless Hercules Pride. The condition of one lioness is not looking good as a result of a fight with the Hercules Pride a few weeks ago.

Battle scars from recent fight with Hercules Pride

Ross Breakaway lioness, most recent mother to cubs

One of the Hercules Pride females is a monster lioness. Her size is seriously impressive, and if she had a mane, she could pass as a male! In addition to this, she and her sister, plus 4 subadult cubs, have aggressive attitudes that stem from a life of solitude. Their territory is deep inside the neighbouring property where very little vehicle activity is permitted, so they are not nearly as habituated as the Ross Breakaway lionesses.

A skittish Hercules lioness

In the past, they have responded to our presence with either fear or aggression. They used to threaten those who approached with mock charges, kicking up clouds of dust and baring teeth through a deep, guttural growl. If they didn’t charge, they would retreat from sight and lie in the thicket where they could be alone.

Hercules Pride keeping hidden

Hercules cubs looking curious

Times have improved, and as they venture further and further out of their territory and into the Africa on Foot and nThambo traverse, they become more used to our presence. We watched them on a buffalo kill right outside Africa on Foot’s camp grounds recently, and although the lions fed well, they were alert to every sound, ears pricked and ready to flee at the slightest suggestion of a threat. But just because they are slightly more patient with us, doesn’t mean they have any tolerance for rival lions like the Ross Breakaways! This may be the Ross Pride territory (and the Hercules are ex-Ross Pride), but the tough females and their youngsters are clearly dominating.

Both Breakaway females bear scars of the battles they have had with the Hercules lions – one has a permanently scarred eye, and most recently, the other was badly beaten up receiving neck and back wounds. Worst of all, the Hercules Pride is responsible for the death of the 9-week-old Breakaway cubs in October. A few days ago the Hercules Pride was glimpsed briefly on night drive, so they are hanging around in the shadows. Now the Ross Breakaways are back and gaining strength with a large meal to themselves… Let’s see what the next move is!

Ross Breakaway lioness with a scarred 'lazy' eye

nThambo in the sighting with Ross Breakaway lionesses

Panting after feasting on a buffalo