I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog as much as I thought I would out here, just due to the nature of being in the field and all the work I am doing. And, each time I sit down to write a blog, I keep getting distracted by all the amazing things that I’ve seen or done. I can’t chose what to write about!
So instead I am going to try and sum up some of the amazing sightings I’ve had recently, and why they are amazing in terms of behavior:
- Tsavo with Metlai
Metlai is a young female (roughly late 2011) whose name mean ‘playful’. What it really should stand for is ‘flirt’! At the time of these photos she was following Tsavo around for at least 24 hours already, presenting herself to him and attempting to vie for his attention. Tsavo, on the other hand, and for no real explanation, was not interested whatsoever. In fact, he was basically running away from her while she followed (which, by the way, was such a mission trying to track him) continually presenting herself in hopes he would change his mind.
*For those who are in the know, Metlai is actually Gate Pan, that female who we couldn’t ID forever.
- The lions and cubs on a kill
As this 6 month old cubs keep getting bigger and bigger, their moms are having to hunt more. We were fortunate enough to hear the females take down this zebra from in the block and after offroading in were able to see the females catching their breath and the cubs wrestled with the dead zebra. Making sure we gave them plenty of space, the cubs became curious with our vehicle and even came up to the car, giving us an amazing visual! The cubs wrestling with the zebra was indeed cute, but there is a much more practical reason behind it all. They are slowly but surely practicing their hunting/survival skills.
A couple of weeks later, the females immobilized a impala in an attempt to let the young cubs make their first kill. Even with a lot of help they were still confused with the concept, so the moms ended up finishing it off themselves. The cubs are still quite young, so there is no need to worry that they weren’t able to make the kill. The females will continue to do this as the cubs grow so that when they are older they will be able to survive on their own.
- Leopards on kills
I may be bias because leopards are amazing, but Tsavo is a pretty cool cat. I have been fortunate enough to see him on a few kills during my time here. Two of which he actually dragged up into a tree. Contrary to popular belief, leopards don’t actually spend all their time in trees. Usually (depending on the individual leopard) these cats will only spend time in trees when they have made a kill in an area with lions or hyenas, or are being chased by the former (now that was an awesome sighting I had in 2013, but that’s for a different time and different blog post). Tsavo has been seen in the south a lot recently, which is prime territory for the resident hyena clan, which is why he may be taking his kills into trees. Many times we see Tsavo on kills he just drags the corpse under a bush.
Most recently we found Tsavo on an aardvark kill! Aardvarks are quite rare to see, so for most of the volunteers it was their first visual of one. Tsavo took the aardvark straight into the tree, ripping open its stomach contents, but only ate half one half of the kill. So from one side it looked like a sleeping aardvark in the tree, but from the other side it is clear it was a kill.
These are only a few of the amazing sightings I’ve had out here, but it is exciting to be able to determine why they behave the way they do, which is why I chose these few examples!
I only have 17 days left out here (SO depressing!) but hopefully I get a few more posts up before I leave. If anything, I’ll just post some more photos….