The Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, home to Africa on Foot and nThambo Tree Camp, has been rife with big cat activity. The leopards have risen to power and are taking centre stage in terms of cat sightings while on game drive. That’s not to say that we haven’t enjoyed generous viewings of our burly lions, it’s just a case of our leopards showing face. The lion pride dynamics have shifted at a rapid rate, and this is largely due to the natural passing of the long-int-the-tooth Ross Pride Breakaway lionesses. These two ladies made up a bulk of our lioness sightings, and with their passing it has opened up space and turf for new prides to occupy turf.
To date, it appears that two of the younger Ross Pride lionesses are making headway on our traverse. Sightings of these two ladies have increased, together with sightings of the easily identifiable Mbiri male lions. The eager and virile beastly boys tend to hover on Klaserie and Timbavati traverse, and clearly have expert craftsmanship when it comes to taking down quarry. The Mbiris, their ladies and another mega-pride of lions have been our most recent lion sightings. The mega-pride we initially thought the be the Western Pride, but we’ve since confirmed that they’re the River Pride of lions. This pride hovers on the outskirts, so sightings are pretty sporadic. The Mbiri and Ross sightings we can classify as consistent.
This Mbiri coalition are stirring up things in the Klaserie, and there have been numerous notable occasions of them copulating with the Ross females. The Ross girls haven’t quite made our traverse their domain just yet – they tend to occupy neighbouring reserves, but they do filter into the Klaserie quite often – especially when they hear the echoing contact calls of the Mbiris.
Ranger Chade Gelderman says, “We got the Mbiri males yesterday. Isaac and I tracked them all afternoon and eventually heard them in the distance, making a kill. We radioed through the commotion to Mike and Elmar, who came to fetch us in the vehicle. We then discovered the coalition on a baby kudu kill. Those Ross females weren’t far off, but they were being independent and doing their own thing”
Our team holds high hopes that the Mbiris will sire cubs with the Ross females, and that they won’t succumb to the cruel hand of the ruthless ways of the wild and the vociferous competitive predators that seek to thwart the development of newcomers. Whether it be through opportunistic elimination or infanticide, cubs unfortunately have a high mortality rate in the bushveld. The Ross Pride Breakaway females had many cubs spanning across the years but they bundles of fluff never saw maturity. We now have a potentially new lineage and so much possibility with these Ross lionesses.
The times they are a changin’!