Lion dynamics at Singita Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park | July 2019

Since the three Kumana males first appeared in August 2018, they’ve been irregular visitors and infrequently seen on the concession. They were most often seen along the H6 with the seven Shish lionesses. However, of late things have started changing; we’ve seen them more frequently around the lodges and north along the N’wanetsi River. They’re gaining in confidence and are regularly heard roaring at night and early mornings pre-dawn and are often the topic of conversation in the early mornings over coffee. One often hears guests in the mornings exchanging, “Did you hear the lions?” These mornings they are often the quarry we all head out in search of and if we’re lucky, we find them still moving, striding with confidence and roaring in the early mist-filled mornings, claiming their territory.

Their territory is now well defined; they don’t go further north than the very large large-leafed rock fig along the N’wanetsi River and in turn the Shish males don’t wander further south than that. It seems like both trios have claimed their respective portions and for the moment are respecting each other’s territories.

That being the case, the Shishangaan females are now within the Kumana males’ territory and are no longer with the Shishangaan males. This was done out of necessity as they needed their young sons to move out of the ‘basement’ and find their own feet. This they’ve truly done and are thriving as young nomads at the moment.

The Shishangaan females have been seen mating with the Kumana males at the end of December 2018 and early January 2019 but none of them conceived at that time. This is, however, normal and to be expected; lionesses very rarely conceive shortly after a takeover. It is far more common for them to only conceive after a period of ‘getting to know each other’. It has been at least six months since the take-over, and it seems like all have settled down and are now comfortable together.

With the arrival of July, we’ve witnessed lots of mating activity between the males and a number of the females. Lions often have synchronised oestrus cycles; this allows for pregnancies and having their cubs at the same time. Having cubs born at the same time has multiple benefits; allo-suckling and looking after each other’s cubs leads to a greater survival rate.

With the Kumana males now being completely accepted by the Shish lionesses we are expecting that the most recent bout of mating will lead to some cubs in the next 110 days. Fingers crossed we’ll soon see the next generation in the eternal battle for survival.