Kafue’s Busanga Plains. Our season starts with high water levels in huge hippo-channel networks, a mix of colours in the plains grasses, and mornings filled with mist. Magical are the moments spent watching big herds of antelopes popping up out of the mist at sunrise, lions hunting and swimming through these waters, and lechwe leaping across channels to escape the predators.
Wilderness Busanga Plains
All in all, our Busanga is one of the best and most breath-taking photographic paradises in Africa.
Now the season has come to an end, and the plains are dry and thirsty – but already the big rains are here to make it green again.
This season we saw a dramatic change in the movements of our prides, especially from our iconic mothers, The Machine and Princess. Their home has always being Shumba, but this year they relocated to the north.
The territorial expansion of the pride’s male lions
It took time for us to understand why, but midway through the season we understood... the General and Mohawk, the pride males that took over from Scarface, have moved in that direction – not just expanding their territory, but looking for more females to potentially breed with. All our big females in the pride have cubs ranging from 7 to 14 months. The movement of these big boys from the central point has made the territory porous, creating a playground for a lot of male intruders, including some of the dispersed males from the pride.
This caused a constant run on the mothers, who have an estimated 19-plus cubs in danger of being killed.
Once in a while, the General and Mohawk came back to chase these intruders, but nothing has stopped them coming in once the big boys were gone.
Over the years, the Busanga females have had more males born than females. A lot of males have thus dispersed, migrating into the central part of the national park. Busanga, with its plentiful prey, has been a hard place to leave for some pride members, which instead opted to play hide-and-seek with the pride males.
Maternal dynamics of female lions within the Papyrus Pride
I’m glad to note now that female numbers seem to be making a comeback, with sixty percent of our cubs being female. We’ve also seen a huge split in our adult females forming separate prides.
So far, the Papyrus Pride has three sub-prides.
Papyrus of Princess, Machine and Nala
Papyrus of Savannah and Vega
Yaya, formerly known as Rayner, with sub-adults including George, the tyre-biter.
One of the big highlights of the season was witnessing a reunion of the mothers and daughters, bringing their cubs together.
Another interesting observation was these mothers not taking more members to join them. Savannah and Vega have been told off, to live by themselves. It does make sense when looking at the prey size, as some cubs would starve in competing for food if their numbers are too high. Most recently, on record is the Busanga lions having turned into crocodile killers!
To end this, I would love to say Busanga has it all, as the area is now the home of leopards too!
Other highlights from the season include hyena at their den with two puppies, cheetah, big herds of sable, roan, hartebeests, oribi, puku, lechwe and elephants, and many hippos…
We are already looking forward to an exciting 2024 season!
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