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We joined Stuart and Brad for episode 15 of #sofasafari beside a sand river. The Ulusaba Rangers had already had a really busy morning, spotting plenty of wildlife which they plan to show us, including following the tracks of a female leopard. As there had been some baboon activity, the leopard may have retreated to a quiet spot.
The Rangers started off by driving past some baboons who had been playing in the trees and eating the fruit. The group drove carefully so as not to spook them. We spotted some antelope grazing at the bottom of the trees to eat any fallen fruit from the baboons messy feed! We also heard the Go Away bird, so called because of the sound of its distinctive call; catch up on the episode on YouTube to listen to the sound.
We quietly observed a small herd of elephants for a while, watching as they ate the foliage and wandered around in the late afternoon sun.
We crossed over to the other team: Tom, Brandon, at the front, and Ryan, behind the camera, who were situated quite far north from the other team, close to the northern boundary of the reserve. The team jumped in their vehicle and headed over the lip of the hill to find some lions lying on the banks of a dry riverbed: five members of the Ottowa Pride! The Ottowa Pride is one of our resident prides and probably one that the Rangers see most often at Ulusaba. The group of five we'd spotted today consisted of three juveniles, one sub-adult and the mother of the juveniles - it was beautiful to see them relaxed and napping in the golden sunset. Tom remarked that there was a split that has occurred within the Ottowa Pride, it won't be permanent but does happen every now and again.
Earlier in the day, they had come across the remains of a buffalo kill which was being picked at by hyenas and vultures. The Guides had seen evidence that our coalition of three male lions had been there at the kill. It was likely that they had been chased off the kill by some members of the Ottowa Pride. The rest of the Pride, a couple of older lionesses were likely around the kill site, and Matimba, the older male lion, was only about 200 metres away from the Rangers, and up by a watering hole in some thick bush. Matimba goes at a much slower pace than the others and can sometimes take him a couple of days to catch up with the rest of the group.
We observed the lions with their full bellies rolling around lazily on the ground, contented and resting, capturing some sunlight before the sun goes in and the evening temperature drops off.
The sub-adult is actually not Matimba's son, he's the predecessor's son, but he will be treated as if he is his son in the sense that Matimba will kick him out of the Pride once he matures and is competition. Usually it's a violent ousting from the Pride - not an enjoyable experience for the young male lion. The lion could even be quite distressed at first and move into a nomadic state. What we could even see at some point is the two young male juveniles joining up with the sub adult at some point in the near future and forming their own coalition.
Generally, it's important for young males to be pushed out of the pride as if they don't leave it's very likely that inbreeding will occur which is not good for the health of the pride.
Animals spotted this week:
The Go Away Bird
You can watch episode 15 of sofa safari here on our YouTube channel where the whole series is also saved.
See you next Monday at 3pm BST on our Instagram!
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