Male lion Kimani

Kimani

Kimani – the one that attracts a gathering

Loldia gang, January 2015.
Loldia gang, January 2015.
Kimani, March 2015.
Kimani, March 2015.
Here follows the story of Kimani – meaning the special one, the one that attracts a gathering. Last New years’ eve, before the last family left from the Irkaa, they had two of their cows attacked by lions. An unusual attack, in that the lions attacked in an open area visible from the homestead while it was still daylight. Further, the following day some of these lions stayed around, only barely hiding in flimsy bushes. This appeared to be a group of lions naïve to the dangers of community land. Who were they?During rainy season 2016 we kept getting reports of a group of 13-14 lions in Irkaa valley, a valley by Olduvai gorge. This is part of Ilchokuti Kinyi’s zone, and his home place during the dry season. People and their livestock moves away from here at the start of the rains, and the area fills with migratory herds of wild herbivores. Those herds had obviously also attracted a pride of lions. The group had one adult male and a mix of adult females and juveniles. It did not match any of the prides we know from the nearby Ndutu region. Often Kinyi found spoors from those lions, but as he was monitoring on foot he could not approach for identification. Every time we went searching in a vehicle, lions were nowhere to be found. This group remained a mystery to us.As people started returning to the Irkaa area, the lions were still there, roaring on most nights and feeding on remaining wildebeest. We also received a few reports of lions circling around and attacking bomas. By now footprints told that the group had reduced to one male and three females. Finally in June we managed to find them. There were three females, including one aging granny, a litter of tiny and noisy cubs, and a majestic looking male with large blond mane. They appeared used to vehicles, and we could easily approach them to take photos and identify them. To our surprise we noticed that one of the females had a VHF collar, of the kind used by Serengeti Lion Project. Kumbe! We had found the missing Mukoma Mischief, a pride that have their usual territory in central Serengeti N.P. That a whole pride moves for this far, this long, AND have cubs, is very unusual.Scrutinizing our lion database, we also found a match with the male. This was SS24, a male born December 2011 in the Simba Separator pride from neighbouring Serengeti, and that occasionally visits Ndutu.Kinyi was beyond excited. He now had a collared lion he could track in his zone. This would help him find the lions, and protect them effectively by warning herders. People grew very tolerant to “Kinyi’s lions”. Also the NCA rangers came out on numerous trips to check on the lions, needing Kinyi’s help to find them. SS24 became this male that everyone wanted to come and see, someone that attracts a gathering – he became “Kimani”.
Kinyi named the lion Kimani, before only SS24. September 2016.
ILchokuti Kinyi names Kimani (before SS24), September 2016.
Kinyi reports on Kimani, September 2016.
Kinyi reports on Kimani, September 2016.
The situation with a stationary group of lions in Irkaa, a place that in dry season fills with large number of homesteads and large herds of livestock, and lacking good hiding places, was not a lasting situation. In August conflict erupted as some goats had been attacked, and before the retaliatory hunt could be stopped the youngest female MM01 got speared. The rest of Kimani’s group scattered – and we have not seen them since. Most likely they went to safer plains into the nearby Serengeti N.P. We, Kinyi not the least, are now waiting eagerly and anxiously for the new rains to start – maybe that will bring Kimani back to us.
Kimanis home area.
Kimani's home area, on the border between Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park.
Updated October 2016
Male lion Museum, Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Museum

Museum – living in the void

Museum was born April 2012 in a 7 cub cohort in Ndutu’s Masek Pride. His father was Mr. C, aka NN49, of the Naabi pride in nearby Serengeti.
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Masek pride in Ndutu, with skinny cubs, one of them is Museum, August 2012.
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Skinny cubs, August 2012.
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Museum, November 2012.
We once found the mums and their year-old cubs in Ngarusi Valley – place of the famous Laetoli footprints and its rudimentary museum, and a busy livestock grazing area. Exited to see them, our lion scouts started naming the young lions. As they got to the last male, MAS-11, they had run out of good names of the area, and thus simply named him “Museum”.
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Museum came to call up with zebra, June 2014.
Over the next 1.5 year we lost track of the young Masek males. Three turned up again as we managed to GPS collar Museum’s brother near the busy village of Endulen. Over the next three months we followed the movements of this nomad trio closely, as they explored the rugged terrain of Lake Eyasi escarpment and the Ngorongoro Crater highlands. They also made it down onto the Crater floor. We thought they may have found a home – but their Crater visit only lasted for 1 week, before they were back up in the highlands, and to our despair getting a taste for cattle. In late June 2015 Laetolia got speared following a blunt attack on 3 cattle.
Museum oco in the Ngorongoro Crater, June 2015.
Museum, Malcolm and Laetolia in the Ngorongoro Crater. Laetolia with GPS-collar, not long before he got speared. June 2015.
Buffalo kill by Museum, Malcolm and Laetolia.
Buffalo kill by Museum, Malcolm and Laetolia.
The herders regretted the loss of a collared lion – by now they had understood the usefulness of GPS collars in warning of lions’ whereabouts. Half a year later, in collaboration with the local residents, we managed to trace down and collar the now very elusive Museum. Thanks to the inflowing positions from the GPS collar we can visit areas where a collared lion spent a longer time, and from spoors learn more of it’s behaviour. Searching such sites, we learned that Museum was on his own, and that despite all wildebeest in area he was feeding primarily on cattle. He was trouble! Then a couple of months later, in May, we noticed a shift in Museum’s behaviour. Spoors told us he was now together with two females, and he turned to eating only wild prey (buffalos, zebras).
Collaring Museum, February 2016.
Collaring Museum, February 2016.
So far Museum is keeping to the highlands near Ngorongoro Crater. Lazaro, Kayanda and Mosonik all gets to guard Museum as he moves between their zones. If Museum maintains this more tolerable behaviour, grows a little stronger and teams up with another male, he may just get a chance on the scene of the Crater floor, and flow in those genes from Serengeti.
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Museum, caught by a camera trap in march 2016.
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Museums movements since collaring. GPS-positions from February (green square) - October (red square) 2016. Black dots are Maasai bomas.
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Museum's home area on the highlands outside the Ngorongoro Crater. The red star shows his birth place.
Updated October 2016
Male lion Kijana in Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Kijana

Kijana – no longer all that young

Kijana, October 2009.
Kijana, October 2009.
Finding unknown lions in the Crater happens once in a blue moon. In 2009 we found two shabby-looking males that we didn’t recognize, a young and an old, and named them accordingly Kijana and Mzee. Kijana (young in Kiswahili) was then around 3 years old. We never saw Mzee again, but over the next five years we occasionally found Kijana, striding along up on the Crater rim road. He was mostly alone, at other times busy mating or consorting lionesses up there in the highland forest.
Kijana in January 2015.
Kijana in January 2015.
Kijana being gps-collared July 11 2015.
Kijana being gps-collared 11 of July 2015.
Moosoni helped collaring Kijana.
Mosonic helped collaring Kijana.
Kijana newly collared and LAG-C, July 15 2015.
Kijana, newly collared, and LAG-C in the background, July 15 2015.
In July 2015 rangers reported squabble between lions on the Crater floor. Kijana had descended, and now in company with Hjalmar the Dreadful, aka MG106 – a Crater born male from the Munge pride. Having teamed up, Kijana and Hjalmar managed to kick out MG91, the lone survivor of Lagunita’s resident males. Then started the typical scenario of a recent male takeover, with lots of mating and consorting. Between October 2015 to March 2016 the three females of the Lagunita pride had a total of nine cubs. Lagunita pride has territory in the southern section of the Crater floor, and the whole pride can now often be seen either by the grass clumps beside Gorigor Marsh, or playfully hanging out on the large logs in the Lerai forest. Kijana himself is fairly easy to recognize; he is aging, with broken teeth, scarry face and a smaller, rather shabby looking mane. His companion, Hjalmar the Dreadful, tends to have his large mane in a tangle of muddy dreads.
Kijana and partner Hjalmar the Dreadful, August 2015.
Kijana and partner Hjalmar the Dreadful, August 2015.
Added to Kijana‘s story is his siring of cubs. We are now eagerly waiting for results of the genetic samples from Kijana to confirm if he is bringing new genes to the Crater population. If so, Kijana’s strategy paid off; to patiently wait out the opportunity to join up with a lone vigorous Crater born nomad, and together compete successfully for an attractive Crater pride.
Kijanas home Area in the Ngorongoro Crater. See also his moves on the crater rim.
Kijana's home area in the Ngorongoro Crater. See also his moves on the crater rim road.
Updated October 2016
Lioness Nayomi, Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Nayomi

Nayomi – our clever and heroic mama

The first documentation of Nayomi is a photo from 2011, a then 2-3 years old lioness out near the Twin Hills east of Ndutu. Lions used to be numerous in this area, but currently we struggle to even find signs of them.
Nayomis cub Nanook and male Puyol, November 2013.
Nayomis cub Nanook and male Puyol, November 2013.
In March 2015 we managed to fit a GPS collar on Nayomi, which has taught us much about the few remaining lions residing here, and – not the least – it has helped us protect them better.
Nayomi, June 2015.
Nayomi, June 2015.
Shortly after we collared Nayomi, she and her adult daughter, Nadine, had cubs. Their resident males, Katavi and Selous, committed fully to their paternal duties. With six little cubs, the dry season setting in and area filling with livestock and their herdsmen, Nayomi & Co were facing challenging times. Over the following months this group showed a routine adapted to coexistence. They would hide in dense thickets from early morning to late evening, then venture out for food and water in the night. They were feeding mainly on livestock, often scavenging skinny cows too weak to make it home. Occasionally Nayomi or Nadine would sprint out from cover in the daytime, attempting to kill passing by livestock. At times they succeeded, at other times suddenly a fierce warrior with antenna would dash in-between. This was our Ilchokuti Sandet, very directly mitigating conflicts by preventing a lion-livestock attack.Conflict got a little out of hand in late August 2015, and Selous got speared after he attacked a herd of cattle and a few donkeys carrying precious water, and killed one of the donkeys. Nayomi and the others managed to escape, and remarkably they managed to all survive throughout the rest of this conflict-season. As the rains finally returned, the livestock herds could be moved to better grass and water, and the Ndutu region again filled with migratory wild herbivores. Nayomi & Co shifted to a menu of wildebeest and zebra, and no longer did they dash into thickets by the break of dawn. Instead we now found them all relaxed, out in the open – with a particular love for climbing trees.
Nayomi and her group up in trees in Twin Hill, November 2015.
Nayomi and her group up in trees in Twin Hill, November 2015.
Nayomi and her cubs, December 2015.
Nayomi and her cubs, December 2015.
Nayomi, February 2016.
Nayomi, February 2016.
By now, Nayomi & Co are making it through the next dry season. Five of the six offspring are still with them. Nayomi is apparently taking the spreading of genes seriously as she also has another litter tucked away in the bushes. We know if from Nayomi’s swollen teats and tell-tale lactation stains. In time we will check out these new cubs – but for now our efforts is to spend all our efforts into keeping Nayomi & Co safe for yet another dry and conflict season.
Nayomi oco with donkey kill, August 2016.
Nayomi & Co with donkey kill, August 2016.
Nayomis movements since collaring. GPS-positions from March 2015 (green square) - October 2016 (red square).
Nayomis movements since collaring. GPS-positions from March 2015 (green square) - October 2016 (red square).
Nayomis movements in dry season September - November 2015. Notice the importance of one site, where she and her group returned to rest during almost every day. That is the Esusunoto area, an almost impenetrable thicket, where she found the best safety.
Nayomis movements in dry season September - November 2015. Notice the importance of one site, where she and her group returned to rest during almost every day. That is the Esusunoto area, an almost impenetrable thicket, where she found the best safety.
Nayomi´s home area.
Nayomi's home area east of Ndutu.
Updated October 2016
Lion LA122, Ngorongoro Conservation Area

LA122

LA122 – our kink-tailed fighter

LA117 and LA122, cousin-sisters, November 2014.
LA117 and LA122, cousin-sisters, November 2015.
The cub born to Tove, aka LA106, in June 2015 is a fighter. He belongs to the LAkette pride, with territory in the South section of the Crater floor. Although he deserves a fancier name, he remains just LA122 to us; the 122th cub born in LAkette pride. At his birth Tove was still a young and unexperienced mama, and clearly not interested in caring for her lone son. We often found Tove a good distance away from LA122, and when they were together Tove did her best to ignore him. As a cub, LA122 clearly wasn’t well cared for, as shown by his tufty unkempt fur. We are even a bit suspicious as to how he kinked his tail. Despite this we always found him in good spirit. Not having a caring mama, he made it to better care from his older aunties and his 6 and 10 months’ older cousins.
LA122 with his mother Tove, July 2015.
LA122 with his mother Tove, July 2015.
LA122 and cousin LA118. September 2015.
LA122 and cousin LA118. September 2015.
Today his Mama Tove has a new litter – 3 cubs she truly cares for. And LA122 continues to hang out with his 2 male cousins, with or without the rest of the Lakette pride. They are often found in the Ngitokitok area, feeding on buffalos, wildebeest or the occasional hippo. They also enjoy resting in the culverts along the main road. You can easily recognize LA122, by his obvious kink in the tail. Though still a youngster, he already has a tale to tell.
LA122 behind his father. You recognice him by his broken tail. October 2016.
LA122 behind his father. You recognice LA122 by his broken tail. October 2016.
Home area of LA122
Home area of LA122 in the Ngorongoro Crater
Updated October 2016
Male Lion Eugene in Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Eugene

Eugene – is he bringing new genes?

We first laid eyes on Eugene in Sept 2013. He was then around 4 years old, in great shape and with a nice but not massive mane. His eagerness to consort a lioness of the Munge pride, the largest of the prides on the Crater floor, lowered his obvious shyness for vehicles, and we could drive closer to identify him.
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Young Eugene, 2013.
On subsequent visits we found Eugene with 3 other males, and all of them unknown to us. We found no matches with any of the Crater-born males, nor among the known lions in neighbouring Serengeti. This was exciting! The last time we documented an unknown male entering and establishing in the Crater was in 1993. Being hopeful that this quartet of males were bringing new genes to the Crater lions we called it the Gene-flow coalition, and named the other three males Genius, Gene and Genovo. It is likely that they are the offspring to Crater descendent lions that have moved up into the dense Crater highland forest. Our genetic samples, when eventually analysed, will show.
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Gene Flow coalition. All four males. July 2014.
Being four males in the coalition the Gene-Flow swiftly took over the Munge pride, with their rich territory along Munge river in the NE section of the Crater. Then a long wait began until finally between May to August 2014 all the 10 Munge females had surviving litters. These cubs, sired by the Gene Flow males, had a remarkable survival, of the 20 born 15 made it beyond their 2nd birthday, and age of independence.
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In 2014 there was a cub boom in the Munge pride after the takeover of the Gene Flow males. This photo is from May 2015.
Life on the top obviously has its price. Both Gene and Genovo have disappeared – most likely victims to fights with other males. Since late 2015 the remaining pair, Eugene and Genius, are mostly seen with or nearby the Lakes pride in the NW section of the Crater floor. Also there they gave rise to a cub boom, with 10 cubs born to 3 females. As of September 2016 seven of these Gene Flow offspring are still around. It is tricky to find them, however, as Lake pride’s territory spans over indistinct grass plains, full of Cordifolia shrubs that perfectly hides even large gatherings of lions.
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Eugene resting his chin on his lady LK98. Lakes pride. Photo taken just after a livestock herd had passed by. September 2016, Ngorongoro Crater.
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Egugene to the left and Genius to the left. September 2016, Ngorongoro Crater.
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Eugene´s home area in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Updated October 2016