The past and future of the Kudyela Pride.
Back in the beginning of 2017 when I joined the Pondoro guiding team the Kudyela pride was split in two groups;(1) the three older females together and (2) the four young lionesses together with their two brothers and one singwe male, all under the protection of the 6 Mohlabetsi males.
The lion dynamics at the time were very stable and it looked like the Mohlabetsi coalition had everything under control, which was until the Machaton males arrived on the 2nd of June 2017. They immediately engaged in a physical fight with the Mohalabetsi coalition and left the dominant male badly injured, then a few weeks later Blondie was killed during another brutal battle. The remaining five males of the Mothlabetsi coalition were then chased across the Olifants river never to be seen south of the river again.
The Machaton males quickly went to work securing the females and pushed away the young Kudyela males and the single Singwe male. The three older lionesses very easily accepted their new protectors but it was the younger lionesses that were not convinced, after a few weeks the Machaton males managed to win their trust and brought the spilt pride back together as one.
As soon as the lionesses accepted the Machaton males they started mating with the brothers and the first litter of cubs were born in January 2018, four more litters then followed that year and brought the number of the cubs up to twelve. Then in first week of January 2019 another lioness gave birth to four cubs, we have not seen her for a few weeks now and are unsure of how many cubs have survived the first few weeks of life.
The pride had quickly grown from only seven lionesses to over twenty individuals, excluding the Machaton males, and has secured themselves as the dominant pride. They are constantly on the move till late in the warm morning hours scouting for prey as the cubs are getting older and their need for a meal becomes greater. We know that the young males’ time with the pride is limited and will eventually be forced to leave by their fathers; but the question is, will the daughters of the Kudyela lionesses stay with the pride and form a large formidable pride or will they break away and form a pride of their own? I guess we have no choice but to wait and see.