PHALANX

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.

2 posts in this topic

We were staying at Kitchwa tembo camp on the west side of the Masai mara, just outside the actual reserve. We chose this area as we knew from past experiences that this was good Lion country. We were not far from the Musiara mash and it's famous Lion's when we thought we had found Lion's on a kill, technically we had, but on close inspection we realised that the Zebra was still alive. The other unusual thing was, all the Lion's were youngsters.59537fcc26244_lion(124).thumb.jpg.f0edeccc22cabb6079b705d299ac5383.jpg We could not see an adult, but did not think these young Lion's had made this kill as they did not seem to know what to do with the Zebra which was braying and trying to get up. Two of the female Lions were holding the zebra down while the male kept walking backwards & forwards near to the head. It was as if the females were waiting for the male to finish the Zebra off, and the male looked like he knew he should, but how?

He jumped on the Zebra which gave out a stifled cry. He bit at the Zebra's neck but looked confused, as did the females who were depending on the male to give the coup de grace. The male tried to pull the Zebra over to expose it's throat but the females holding it would not let go.

    We had been here about half-hour and it was a little distressing but were aware this has to happen for the youngster to learn. The male walked around the other side and jumped upon the Zebra again biting at it's neck. The zebra was kicking out weakly when the other female decided to join in and grabbed at the Zebra's flailing leg's. As the Zebra struggled it cried out in desperation which startled one of the Lion's which leapt backwards looking a little confused. At that moment we noticed  a movement in a bush just beyond where the Lion's were. We thought it must be another youngster about to join the struggle. We drove slowly around to the other side and there was the architect of the kill, Mama.59537ffd49b21_lion(59).jpg.acdb0c61dc415487fe15c4f3f3512f46.jpg

She had reacted to the Zebra's last cry of desperation, probably not believing her young had still not finished the job. She made no attempt to go and help them. 

    She had chosen well, the Zebra was a sub adult, a good size to test her youngsters but had they been paying attention when she had previously shown them what to do? From what we had seen so far the answer was No!. The last effort by the Zebra caused it to turn more onto it's back and the male suddenly gripped the Zebra by the throat, a few adjustments and a final effort by the Zebra to get free, and it was all over. It was only now that Mama came over to show them the art of opening up their pray.

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As distressing as it all was, we must assume the Zebra was in shock through out. It had been about one hour in all and mama had resisted any temptation to help. She had done her part in bringing the Zebra down. You can imaging the scenario; Ok kids, here is your lunch. You have seen me do it now don't disappoint me. And eventually they didn't.

 

 59537fec9bedc_liononZebrakill(5).jpg.2d664de77d20427cc0c891081082c57f.jpg   

On another occasion in the north of the Masai mara near the Talek river we saw a mother Cheetah do the same thing. She caught a young Thompson's Gazelle and carried it back to her three cubs. She dropped it in front of them and surprisingly the gazelle just lay there.The cubs stood looking at the young gazelle and then at each other and then back at the Gazelle. The gazelle got up but the cubs never moved, the gazelle started to run and the cheetah cubs instinctively gave chase. They soon caught the up with the gazelle and the lead cub tripped it with a quick flick of it's paw. The three cubs once again surrounded the gazelle and standing there staring at the gazelle seemed totally bemused as to what they should do. Two of them clawed at their prey but without any real conviction when suddenly the gazelle was up and running again. Once more they gave chase and caught the gazelle once again, this happened two more times until mama decided that was enough practise for one day, and she calmly walked over, dispatched the gazelle, opened it up allowed the cubs to feed first. Resting a short distance away she waited until they had finished and then ate herself.

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lion' on Zebra kill (10).jpg

Cheetah(Mara) (78).jpg

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Lessons of the bush.  Fascinating.

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