Losing Lispy

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Posted by Sara Blackburn at 12:15 PM

After some more investigation around the Musiara Marsh, I can sadly confirm that Lispy is no longer alive. It has been difficult tracking down all the member of the Marsh Pride, including all the youngsters, but all are now accounted for except Lispy.

On a training session with the guides from Serian Camp, I found Joy from the Three Graces eyeing a herd of impala within the Mara River treeline. She looked thin, and had better step up her hunting – she now has four three-month old cubs to look after, discovered by Nicholas Ratia, our reporting guide from Karen Blixen Camp. With the Marsh Pride clocking up over 20 lions in total – including many boisterous male teenagers – It’s no wonder she’s keeping her little ones at a distance. Matajo and Hasani, her older cubs, are now spending more and more time on their own, but have been welcomed by the main group. They’re certainly too young to be looking after themselves.

joy new cubs
Joy with two of her little ones – thanks to Nicholas for a great picture!

Next, we found the majority of the pride resting near the Musiara Marsh Windmill. We counted 15 lions in total – including Clawed and Romeo, the pride males. Clawed is really showing his age, and I don’t know how long this pair can hold their pride. I identified Charm, resting with her three large cubs, one intent on annoying Romeo, who wasn’t best pleased with his play-mate.

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This cub had better watch out!

Siena, the third of the Three Graces, was sleeping within the group. Once a clear splinter group, it certainly appears that the trio have been formally accepter back in to the main pride. This is probably somewhat down to the loss of Red earlier last year, and now Lispy – with a large number of demanding cubs and youngsters, there are many mouths to feed. Certainly, many of the pride appeared rather thin.

White Eye and Bibi, the two remaining original Marsh Pride females, were the last adults to be identified by the Serian Camp guides. Jonathan Koikai quickly pointed out the unmistakable female with her missing eye.

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White Eye (left), Charm (centre) and Siena (right) are now the pride leaders, together with Bibi (below)
bibi sitting


Finally, we tracked down the young females that are Bibi, Lispy, Red and White-Eye’s older cubs. Still youngsters, the four girls were playing with two tortoises that they had found. Although lions can eat everything from mice to elephants, these hard cased critters proved too much for these inexperienced lionesses!

marshgirls
You might want to remove the outer packaging!

So it is now clear that we’ve lost Lispy. As a core female in the Marsh Pride for many years, it is certainly a loss. However, at the ripe age of 13, Lispy has been a successful mother for a decade, and has left behind some formidable descendants. With the reunion of the main pride and the Three Graces, I have little doubt that the Marsh Pride will continue to thrive as the best loved lions of the Masai Mara.

lispy
Lispy looks out over her territory of the Musiara Marsh


Sara

Lions of the Olare Orok

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Posted by Sara Blackburn at 9:23 PM

This week I’ve been spending time in the Olare Orok Conservancy (OOC). Lying along the southern border of the Mara North Conservancy and contiguous wit the Masai Mara National Reserve, the OOC is packed full of lions, despite its relatively small size. This month, Mara Plains and Kicheche Bush Camp have welcomed me to the conservancy to see how many lions I can find.

The week started well with a gaggle of young lions – nine of them dozing alongside a small lugga. One handsome young male stood out, together with a smart young female. The group was a real mixed bunch, with large cubs, sub-adults and one older lioness that was babysitting the crowd. We identified them as part of the Ngoyonai Pride who currently have a real stronghold within the conservancy.

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Our first find: the Ngoyonai Pride
The following evening, we ventured further north, happening upon yet more Ngoyonai members. A pair of smart lionesses were watching impala nearby a mating pair. The male was one of the pride’s pair who had overthrown the old boys the reign in the OOC, and this ruffian had all the battle scars to show for it. As darkness fell, the couple bellowed across the plains. Roaring is a lion’s way of locating other pride members, and also warning other lions in the area that they’re around.

mating
Ensuring his genes are passed on is top priority for pride males

On day three, I found the other Ngoyonai male, also with his progeny on the agenda. This fellow was resting near the road, but he wasn’t alone. Rounding the bend of a heavily vegetated stream, I was met by a proud mother and her three young cubs. Timid but adventurous, the trio played around (and on!) their patient mother.

ngoyonai male
You can see why this smart male rules the roost alongside his brother
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Mum’s the word
It’s certainly clear that the OOC is a real playground for lions. The Ngoyonai Pride are certainly on top form, with two strong males, plenty of breeding females and a whole host of youngsters, young and old. However, it’s not always been this way – just a few months ago, the Monico Pride reigned supreme. But with not a single Monico member in sight, it’s clear that things have been turned upside down in the OOC lion world.

Keep posted for more introductions to OOC pride members, and a look into why the Ngoyonais have gotten one up on the Monicos.

Sara