Text: Ranger Pieter van Wyk
The dynamics within our lion population over the last year have been anything but stable. Many of us here have joked that a blog on the topic would require only one character, a question mark. We’ll try to use a few more... The Kambula pride has been at the very center of the unrest that has seen deaths, power-shifts and territorial take-overs.
The promise of 6 young lionesses is irresistible to male lions. Over the months since their arrival on MalaMala the Kambula pride have caught the attentions of several coalitions; the Matshapiri males, the Avoca males, the Manyeleti males, the Marthly males, the Mantimahle males and most recently, the Gowrie males. No coalition is yet to claim complete dominance over the pride however, we have seen them mate with almost all of them. The theory is that, by mating with rival coalitions, the lionesses are hedging their bets via deception. Male lions will kill cubs that are not their own but if they all believe that they are the fathers... well, the benefits are plain to see. Again, ‘in theory’ for the trick to work successfully the timing has to be right as male lions will remember when they mated and are aware of the gestation period. We say ‘in theory’ simply because there all always exceptions in nature. So, boom or bust? 2 lionesses have recently given birth to 3 cubs each, doubling the prides number from 6 to 12. Furthermore, it is likely that the other lionesses will also give birth soon. If they have successfully duped all the males then the Kambula pride stands a chance of becoming very large pride indeed. If not, then they’ll be back at square one before they know it.