After a relatively long absence, the Southern Pride females were once again in Sabi Sabi. Having found their tracks leaving a neighboring reserve and moving onto our reserve this morning the search was on. Following the tracks of four large females, we managed them to locate them on the central western reaches of the reserve.
The group consisted of the four older Southern Pride females including Mandleve (Floppy Ear), which is fuel for a much-needed debate on the location of the younger females. As well as the sub adult males, they have not been seen for some time now, which begs the question – has the mighty Southern Pride split?
The four females were moving with some intent in a northerly direction, all-looking as fit and strong as ever. After passing through a Round-leaf Teak thicket they emerged onto one of the open plains. With their body posture changing with immediate effect we knew there must have been something of interest to these majestic cats on the horizon. We edged closer, mesmerized by the power and strength of these huge females, with their shoulder muscles bulging as they moved undetected across the plains. The silhouettes of wildebeest, zebra and waterbuck appeared on the horizon.
With the obvious experience that these four ladies have, they closed down the distance between themselves and their potential targets, and lay down to rest most likely waiting for the distinct advantage that the cover of darkness will give them.
We are all waiting in anticipation to see what tonight may hold. The evening started off with the rangers heading back to the last location of the females, only to find that they were not there.
After a lot of hard work by the rangers and trackers, a general area was located that the females were in by using the signs that the bush had given us, in this case vultures dropping out of the sky. The rangers managed to discover the females and found that they were successful in bringing down a young zebra.
Interestingly enough, after Mandleve had eaten her full she moved to water to quench her thirst and then became mobile in a southerly direction, leaving behind the other three females. She was moving a great distance almost reaching the Sabie River, by the time the guides had left her. Which begs the question what was her motivation – are the cubs still alive?