I was driving in the reserve yesterday when I saw some lion tracks which I started to follow. After a while, I turned round a corner still following the tracks, when I saw her. I turned off the car engine and immediately grabbed my binoculars to see which female this was. I knew at once. This was a new female. She was quite wary of me and watched me keenly. I started to draw her whisker spots and photograph her. I aged her at approximately 3 years. But what struck me immediately was how white her face she was! I decided to call her Naibor – meaning white in the Samburu language.
I stayed with Naibor for a while to “get to know her”. She eventually moved off into the thick bush on the side of the road. As I watched, I suddenly saw her jump and leap up into the air. She had killed something! I could not tell what it was initially, but she kept leaping up and appeared to be “playing” with her prey. I then realized she had killed a slender tailed mongoose. She continued throwing it around and then finally sat down in the bush and started eating. I could not see her at this stage as the bush was so thick but could hear her eating.
I realized then that her nature reminded me of Nashipai 5 years ago. In 2003, when I first saw Nashipai, she was alone, and was seen playing with a tortoise! I don’t know where the lovely Naibor came from; most likely Kalama Conservancy as the area I found her in was not too far away. I hope I see her again soon.
The Ewaso Nyiro is still flowing and although the landscape is beginning to dry up slowly, pink and white flowers are still everywhere. On the way back to the camp after seeing Naibor, I was fortunate to see some elephants drinking in the river and a very cool white-bellied go-away bird eating some pink flowers!
Meanwhile, the search continues for Nashipai.
Many thanks to you all for your comments and interest in the Ewaso Lions. I wanted to answer a few questions I’ve received over the past few days.
Ntito moved out of the reserve with her cubs at a time when it was raining and most of the prey had dispersed. In most cases, the lions come back when it dries up and the prey begin to congregate along the Ewaso Nyiro. However this time, Ntito did not return. There is still water in the hills currently, and the animals are not back yet. However, I anticipate that over the next few weeks, the prey and predators will be back along the Ewaso Nyiro.
Killings camels – I’ve recorded many incidences of lions killing camels outside the reserves. A few lions can easily bring down a camel, and they find it much easier to kill livestock then wild prey.
Due to the small size of the reserves (Samburu and Buffalo Springs are approximately 300km2), fencing would not be a viable option as the animals need to be free to roam within their range, including the elephants who move frequently between Samburu and Laikipia Districts. Other wide-ranging animals such as wild dogs and cheetahs also use the reserves.
A few differences between lions here and lions in for example the Maasai Mara; it is rare to see more than 2 or 3 lions together here. Most of the time, the lions are seen alone or in pairs. I have seen the Koitogor Pride all together on only one occasion during the drought a few years ago. Females, males and cubs were all together, bringing down larger prey like buffalo and giraffe. However, normally one or two females are seen together and their main prey in the area is impala.
Male lions here don’t have very large manes. This male below, Lnchurai, was around a few years ago and he was the main male in the area. Maneless males have been recorded here too. However almost 2 years ago, 2 big maned males migrated to Samburu from the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (South of Buffalo Springs). This was the first time that we have had such huge lions in the area.
More information coming soon! Also, there are a few stories from earlier in the year on the project website: http://www.ewasolions.org/diary.php