Ageing pride leaders portends a change of guard
Early one morning, as we approached the Kingfisher picnic site, we saw 12 lions, including cubs, in the road. They moved on to entertain us by occupying the picnic site and climbing the trees.
However, apart from the excitement of seeing this, there was a sad moment when we saw one of the two male lions, known by many people as Sam. He had seemingly been in a fight of some kind, and was now nursing a serious eye injury.
Thankfully KWS responded quite quickly and were able to dart Sam and treat the injured eye. I doubt if he will gain sight in the eye after the flesh wound has healed.
The two lions, known as Sam and Cheru, have been in a coalition for a number of years. However, lions, like all species, have limited lifespans.
According to a study done by Michael Mbithi & Dave Mascall, M1-Cheru was estimated to be born in 2004 and M2-Sam in 2005, so effectively this means that they will be about 16 and 15 years old this year.
Based on research throughout Africa, male lions in the wild are estimated to live for about an average maximum of 15 years. Although there can be exceptions and these two lions are already above average, their reign as Kings of the Kingfisher pride is in imminent danger. The threat of stronger younger mature lions attacking and taking over the pride is quite likely.
There are already a number of strong young princes in contention. However, whatever happens, the younger lions might also form a coalition to eventually emerge as the future ‘Kingfisher Pride Kings’ in the Nairobi National Park.
Will the year 2020 be the year of the changing kings? Only time will tell.