We’ll never tire of hearing about the intricate web of the Balule’s lion pride dynamics. Recently we’ve heard about the young Mohlabetsi male coalition adopting the dominant role within three prides (Mohlabetsi, River and Impalabos prides) and patrolling a wide range within the Balule traverse. These rugged boys have conducted kills, mated with available females and definitely haven’t shied away from conflict.
A few days ago the Ezulwini team spotted 3 Mohlabetsi males dining out on a recent buffalo kill. But this time, it wasn’t three lions from the dominant clique, but rather up and coming youngsters from the Mohlabetsi Pride of lions! It’s going to be interesting to watch these brazen sub-adults progress into adulthood.
It appears that the rest of the pride had already dined out on the kill – they disappeared into the deep thickets of the Balule. The area was littered with tracks and we know that the Mohlabetsi Pride is 13 members strong, without the coalition of males. We believe there are two cubs with the pride, but unfortunately no tracks of cubs were seen. Rangers arrived in time to observe the three sub-adult males tucking into their portion.
There’s always a hierarchy with lions when it comes to the order of eating. Dominant males will eat first, even if the lionesses have conducted the kill. If the coalition of dominant males were around, they would have already had their fill by the time the game viewer arrived at the sighting. Older lionesses will eat after the big males have had their share. Occassionally, lionesses will snack on the kill just as they’ve made it; ensuring they get some form of food before the pride gets involved. Sub-adults and cubs are always last on the list to eat, which is probably why the young boys were left behind. This formalised ritual is believed to be a dominant display of leadership within a pride.
So, now we’ve spotted the pride, where are the dominant coalition? Are they with the River Pride or the Impalabos? Hopefully we’ll see them soon.