The Othawa lion pride has provided us with a roller coaster of emotions over the past few years.
I have only been in contact with the pride since early 2018. At that stage the Othawa Male lion was only starting to come of age. One of my favourite moments with him was hearing him roar for the first time. This coincided with the arrival of the Matimba males.
After the young Othawa Male left the area, the Matimba male lions took over the pride and sired their first Othawa cubs.
The 2020 lockdown period provided a few interesting surprises. After not seeing the Othawa male for many months, he finally graced us with his presence again and showed off his good looks.
After a long and hard lockdown period, the Matimba male and Othawa pride managed to take down a buffalo. I was extremely fortunate to witness the entire encounter from start to finish.
Soon enough the pride dealt with the arrival of the Tumbela male lions. They kicked out the Matimba male and took control of the pride. One exciting moment of any take over means that there will most likely be a new litter of cubs to look forward to.
In the meantime, the young Othawa Breakaway female arrived back in the area after a leave of absence. She has struggled to reunite with her pride, but has since joined forces with the single Ximungwe lioness.
Another major shakeup occurred when the Birmingham and Nkuhuma male lions entered the scene. Their first order of business was to evict the Tumbela male. Unfortunately during one of their encounters they managed to get hold of an Othawa juvenile.
Within the last few weeks, increasing pressure from the Birmingham coalition and the arrival of the two Plains Camp male lions, an unfortunate shift in the pride dynamics developed.
Another encounter with the opposing males resulted in the loss of the two elderly Othawa lionesses. This was a day that was inevitable, yet we feared for the future of the young Othawa mother and her youngsters.
For a short period the single Othawa mother and the five juveniles crossed over to another area of the reserve. There was talk that one of the young females was missing and a few days later the young male was preyed on by a hyena.
The Othawa pride has finally returned leaving us with one adult and three young females. The Tumbela male lion has not provided any support to his pride over the past few weeks. It is unclear which way the dynamics between the various males will unfold.
For now the Othawa lion pride keeps moving forward. As long as they are able to dodge the competing males, the young mom has a chance to raise the juvenile lionesses to adulthood.
What has your most memorable moment with the Othawa Pride been?