Meet the locals

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Posted by Sara Blackburn at 8:12 PM

Time to introduce you to some of our lions. Around Serian Camp is a small group of lions that are part of the River Pride. The core individuals in this group are three sisters - Asali, Mandisa and Tailend, who I call the Maternity girls, as they spend most of their time around the lugga of the same name. All three are around 4 to 5 years of age, and have been seen with a host of different males over the past few months.

Asali and Mandisa are most likely direct sisters and are very similar in appearance. You need to look closely at the whisker spots and the shape of the face to tell them apart. Mandisa has a rounder face and a richer coloured coat, plus a rear whisker spot on the left side.

Above: Mandisa and Asali (background) scan the plains

Tailend is one of our easier lions to identify - not only does she have the end of her tail missing (hence the name) but she has a large scar on the right of her nose. Her coat is lighter than most lions, and her eyes are small and slanted.
Below: Tailend has a scar on the right side of her nose.

Above: The Maternity girls from left to right: Tailend (background), Asali and Mandisa

I certainly have a soft spot for Asali- she was the first lion I saw whe I arrived at Serian. At this time in July and August she mated with a number of males, including Clawde and Romeo of Big Cat Diary fame, and now has three tiny cubs. Six weeks ago the trio were no more than little bundles of fluff hidden in Maternity lugga - now, two months later, they have been introduced to the pride and can be seen playing and exploring their new surroundings near to camp. She certianly is a great mother and a formidable lioness despite her age. Unfortunately Mandisa wasn't so successful in raising her cubs - she lost them after two weeks, most likely to hyena.

Above: One of Asali's cubs aged 8 weeks checks out the Suzuki!

The male of the moment with the Maternity girls is Caesar. He's a really impressive male with an enormous chestnut mane and noble face. Mandisa quickly came into heat after the loss of her cubs, and Caesar was there to father the next bundles of joy. Let's hope that she has more success in raising a family in three months!

The Maternity girls are certainly ones to watch out for, and you'll be hearing a lot more of them in the months to come.