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The mystery of sleeping lions, by ranger Ryan Bates

The mystery of sleeping lions, by ranger Ryan Bates

Lions are known to sleep for between eighteen and twenty hours a day. This often results in sightings that often err on the side of boring. That is, unless you know that with a little patience you could actually learn something new.

It was during one such sighting that I learned something about the Guernsey lion pride on the Kapama Game Reserve. This small pride is made up of three lionesses and two cubs, later joined by a lone male lion. I had seen this male lion before on game drives, but never this far north on the reserve. He was lying under a tree with one of the adult lionesses of the pride, just a few metres from the cubs and the other two lionesses. Why had he joined up with the Guernsey pride? Why were all the pride members so relaxed? Was this male lion the father of the two Guernsey cubs?

I’ve learnt that male lions will often kill other male lions’ offspring to bring the lioness back into oestrus. This will allow the male to mate with her, strengthening his own bloodline. Now without proper DNA testing I can only assume that the two Guernsey cubs were fathered by the male from the south, and this is why he was not seen as a threat to the Guernsey pride.

Guernsey-pride

But why has the male joined up with the Guernsey pride? Could it be that one of the Guernsey females is coming into oestrus and that the male wants to mate with her? Or could it be that perhaps the male knows that staying with the pride increases his chances of a good meal? The answer to this question is unfortunately not clear to us right now. Who knows? In a little more than three months we could have some beautiful new cubs joining the Guernsey pride.

Sightings like this one at first glance don’t often look action appealing or exciting, but it’s with such sightings that questions often present themselves. If you’re patient enough, maybe the answers will be presented too.

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