Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Creation of a Coalition

Two members of the young coalition on patrol. 
The wonder of working in nature is that you often get glimpses into an animals life. While I certainly do not dismiss the necessity of good photographic equipment I find wildlife hugely more exciting and interesting than even the most advanced camera systems or post processing tecniques. On this last trip to the Timbavati with Africa Photographic Travel I was once again reminded of that. Sightings were really fantastic both on a photographic level and we certainly had more than enough great subjects. Yet also lot of non-photographic excitement. No fewer than four individual leopards were seen including a female with cubs; two prides of lions and many more other interesting animals. Elephants came through our unfenced camp every single day and on my way back to my tent one night I was confronted with a female elephant only feet from my balcony (try slipping past that one ten o’clock at night!!). We also spent a very memorable morning with a buffalo herd probably a thousand strong as the came down to drink.  But the highlight of the weekend by far was finding what’s known as the Jacaranda lion pride as the sun came up one morning and witnessing one of natures’ subtle intricacies. Reading between the lines if you want?

Still to young to risk a loud roar that may attract large territorial males, the young males continuously uttered soft contact calls to one another as they moved through the bush
 My real amazement came when the character of the five young lions were revealed. To start with, a coalition of five lions is very impressive to start with and these associations become very quickly well known. Think of the Mapogos of the Sabi Sands or the legendary Notch and his sons that dominates the Mara at the moment.  But to get back to the Jacarande five. At one stage a lion call was heard in the distance and almost as one the pride got up and started towards the source of the sound. Although still relatively young the strength of the coalition and their determination to enforce their dominance was evident, almost as they already knew the strength lying in their numbers. At between three and four they are certainly not capable of overthrowing resident males but as time goes on they will certainly develop into a force to be reckoned with in this part of world. And a fascinating story to follow and document in years to come.

His youth still emphasized by his “Mowhawk” hairstyle a young lion strides purposefully toward the source of a possible intruder, utter determination evident in his stare.

The Matriarch of the pride also on the lookout for the distant intruder. 

Undoubtedly many dramas will unfold over the next few months and years, many of which under cover of darkness and out of sight of us humans. A few though will probably be witnessed during the very few serendipitous minutes guests and guides share natures’ stage with these iconic animals.

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