The story of the Southern Pride is an ever-evolving masterpiece of nature. I have mentioned on a number of occasions that nature is all about the good, the bad and the ugly and without these three factors the entire system will fall apart. The Southern Pride is not immune to this and over the past few months we have watched as the numbers in the pride grew to 28 individuals as four of the females gave birth to 12 new cubs.
Of those 12 cubs, 10 were sexed and found to be males…so why the growing number of males in the litters? My personal opinion is that the pride is at such a number that any more females would put extra pressure on the pride in the long run and that producing males means that your genetics will get pushed further out by producing males who could potentially take over other prides and keep the melting pot of genetics flowing.
The pride had been split into two distinctive groups, one consisting of the lionesses with cubs and those without. The four sub adult males were hanging around the lionesses with no young cubs but have since disappeared. I think they got to the stage where the females had to kick them out as they were becoming a little too sexually mature.
The Kruger male has been in and around the pride but for the most part he has been acting more like a nomad than a pride male and this lack of protection has since seen a number of the cubs being killed by the three Sand River males. The cub numbers dropped from 12 to 6 and after a recent run in with these three males the numbers have dropped again to what is assumed to be one or two cubs. We have not seen the little ones for a while and cannot verify these numbers unfortunately.
So the numbers in the pride have plummeted significantly as the cubs are all but lost and the four sub adult males seem to have moved on. The fact that the groups have split has made it difficult to get a final count on the numbers but with the loss of the some of the cubs two more females have joined the group of six and have been hanging around the North of the reserve for a couple of weeks now.
It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out and if the other females will once again join up with the group of eight or if we will see a split in the pride. The Kruger male’s days seem to be numbered but this beautiful male is still managing to cling on by the hair around his claws. He has immense pressure being put on him by the Sand River males but fortunately for him they are his only immediate threat. It is incredible to think that there were 17 different male lions all making forays into Southern Pride territory all looking to stake a claim and now over the last two months this number has dropped to four, the Kruger male and the three Sand River males.