At 5:15 after very heavy rain we headed out for another drive, this time we were monitoring the big cats and that is what we went in search of. We headed to the Eneskeren River where we had seen the two lionesses with the cub yesterday.
A few minutes further down from Rocky Crossing we spotted the two lionesses and cubs the other side of the river and we quickly drove down to get a better view. There were a total of 5 cubs with a definite size difference showing two separate litters.
After consulting ID sheets and talking to our guide Joseph these two lionesses are local and well known to the area. They belong to the Sampu Enkare Pride, which I have later found to believe were a split off group from the Enesikiria Pride not too far away. The two lionesses were found to be:
LOKOMAN - BORN IN SEPTEMBER 2013
ESIRIWUA - BORN IN JULY 2005
With an age gap of 8 years these two lionesses are almost certainly from different generations and have recently suffered a loss in the pride of older female Tikki who was also born in July 2005. The following section is from the Mara Lion Project Lion Tales on Facebook:
"The Sampu Enkare Pride was hit by a tragic event. The iconic female Tikki has died. She was found dead, or rather what was left of her, one morning we do not know what happened. Tikki was most likely born in 2005 and we had her first encounter with her in 2011. She was given the name Tikki because of the many ticks that were attached to her upper neck when she was named. During the time that we knew her, she managed to raise three sets of offspring to independence, including five males and four females. Tikki's true companion throughout most of her life was Esiriwua, who must now carry the Sampu Enkare Pride with Lokoman. We really hope that Tikki's three youngest daughters will return to their natal pride someday to increase its number of core females."
It was brilliant to see these cubs again and it gave me a sense of familiarity. It was nice to be able to see individuals again and to try and track their process. As they were only just slightly further down the river they seemed to be staying in the same spot for now. As we were leaving the cubs appeared to be having lots of fun frolicking around with each other. Both litters seemed to have no preference and were all seen playing together.
As we left the mothers appeared to be taking the cubs back into the direction of their nursery hide out, night was beginning to draw in and they would start to become unsafe as other lions and carnivores started to wake for the night ahead.
The cubs that we have seen are clearly very important as the female cubs could become a new generation of the pride and it was hoped that they will either stay with Esiriwua and Lokoman or in close proximity. So far these were the lions I was the most aware of and I had not seen or heard anything of Tikki's youngest daughters who came from the Sampu Enkare Pride. I looked forward to hopefully being able to see Lokoman and Esiriwua at some point over the next few days.
All of these cubs were fathered by the 'Rekero Males' - A powerful coalition of four males who controlled the whole Conservancy, I had heard and read a lot about these boys and I was really looking forward to seeing them. In the mean-time I would hear them regularly most nights as they passed very close past our camp while on the patrols. For anyone wanting to keep a close eye on the prides within the Mara ecosystem I strongly recommend following the Mara Lion Project on Facebook as they gave you regular updates of all the lions within their study area.