Photographs by Rob Allen, Dave McKelvie & Will Knocker
Two lionesses stare at soaring vultures overhead, attracted by their kongoni kill.
I estimate between 35 & 40 lions in NNP all told, all descended from the 7 that remained in the park after the drought of 2005 when so many were killed after cattle-killing outside the park….
This is way above the historical average of 30 lions established by the lion researcher Judith Rudnai in the 70′s & a reflection of the changing conditions in NNP during a prolonged dry cycle.
4 adult lions move along a track in the park. Social groupings appear to consist of individual lionesses & their cubs right now, with at least 4 adult males (including the dominant male Ujonjo -perhaps the father of the whole lot!!) in the competition for mating rights. Traditionally there were 2 distinct prides in the park, but we seem to be in a confused transitional period now……
Two males investigating female urination….
And testing to see if they are in oestrus by exhibiting flehmen (below)…..
A portrait of a young pretender…….
With his coalition partner…..
Two lionesses watch a bull eland……
Below, three of a group of four cubs of a litter of four,ALL of whom survived during the recent drought, when food has been so plentiful in the park.
The NNP population of lions is very young, with all but 7 individuals being less than 5 years old & at least one more litter of young cubs recently observed…….notice the suburban backdrop, which sums up the area outside the park in 2010:certainly not suitable for big cats, though they regularly venture out at night…..
Below, 2 young lionesses of a group of 4, including a single young male photographed last weekend in the Athi Basin -these lions were nervous. Had they been out of the park the previous night & perhaps been chased out of a local cattle boma?
A lioness near Masai Gate, loking out over her fast diminishing kingdom outside the park.The day before this individual was observed to kill an adult male baboon in the Silole Sanctuary……