Most cats are loners; lions are one of the few cat species that live communally. Recently we were advised by the Game Watchers Porini guides in Selenkay conservancy, that members of the Selenkay Pride were nursing some injuries. The uppermost question in our minds was what could possibly have happened? When we went to check on the pride, we noticed that Selenkay and her two daughters – Nenkii and Meoshi were all nursing wounds. But there was an obvious lingering tension between Selenkay and Nenkii – both who have had tough lives.
Selenkay who is the only surviving member of the original female cohort that dispersed from Amboseli Park in early 2009 and she is now the oldest female in this area. Known for her reputation as a livestock raider, she is a good mother that always brings her cubs to maturity despite all the odds. She has been hunted many times in retaliation of livestock killed and has actually injured two Maasai murrans in the process. Each time she managed to escape. She owes her life to the Guardians who have protected her and the tolerant community in Eselenkei. This time, the attack came from her own daughter and her injuries were on her right legs.
For Nenkii, she is now raising her third litter. As a mother, she has also gone through tough times. For the safety of her cubs, she has twice had to leave the safety of her home and family when new males moved in and killed litters of her mother and sister. Unfortunately, once the cubs are on their own without their mum’s protection, both cubs of her first litter died; one killed by a puff-adder bite and the cause of death of the other is unknown but starvation is suspected. Thankfully, the three daughters from her second litter are now frequent visitors to our camp and doing well; we are hoping they will mate soon and have cubs of their own by early next year. And meanwhile, their mother Nenkii is focused on keeping her new little cubs alive and well-fed.
Now that she is back with her pride, but with more mouths to feed in the group, competition for food has become absolutely furious and intense. On this day, we believe the competition led to a family feud and injured lions. Nenkii may have killed a small animal for her four little cubs and while they were feasting, Selenkay brought her entire group of eight to the party un-invited!
Nenkii may have protested and tried to protect the little food for her small cubs. This one protest could have led to the fight with Selenkay suffering multiple injuries while Nenkii came away with scratches only. Even the mild-tempered peace-making Meoshi got bitten in the skirmish. Several days after the fight, Nenkii appeared to have gotten over the altercation. While Selenkay was on the mend physically, she was definitely still holding on to a grudge. She openly showed her dislike for Nenkii by growling at her whenever Nenkii came near. However, Magnanimous Martii was peace-keeping within his family and no more fights have broken out since. All said and done, they are still staying together because they are a family with strong bonds and lots of cubs to raise!