The 'Big Pride' of lions have cubs

One of the females from the "Big Pride" (or Mwamba III as they are scientifically know!) of 16 lions that have been hanging around Mfuwe Lodge area (and sometimes even the Mfuwe Lodge grounds) for the past 2 years has had 3 cubs. We have some photos below and even video of them at about 2 weeks old, playing with mum – they must have been born towards the end of September and early October.

Below is a bit of information about the 'Big Pride', who are being studied by the Luangwa Valley Carnivore Monitoring Programme.

"They seem to have originated from the north and could well be a split off of the infamous original Mwamba pride. The pride of 16 lions (not counting adult males) made their way down into the Mfuwe area at the end of the 2008 season and through the 2008-2009 rainy season. There are now 7 adult females, 3 subadult females and 6 subadult males (subadult males in 3 age classes) and now 3 new cubs. Not counting the newest litter of 3 cubs the last 3 litters have been unsuccessful, with only 1 cub documented by the Zambia Carnivore Programme, but there have been reports of 2 other litters seen (1 litter in March, 1 in July) but they have not seen recently.

Initially the pride was attended by 3 males. Slit (with his cut nose), Grumpy (collared male) and Stewart (very old and he looked like Rod Stewart). Stewart was very old and killed by a buffalo last year. Since that time Grumpy has spent most of his time with the Luwi pride in the north and Slit with Big Pride. They have only been seen together after the death of Stewart once by the Zambia Carnivore Programme. Recently Slit's condition has been fading and it seems like he has been in fights with other males. One of them probably the young male from 'Chichele Pride' who is just 4 years old. This Chichele male has been seen mating with a few of the females of 'Big Pride'. Also another unknown male has showed up in the main Mfuwe game viewing area, he looks slightly younger than the Chichele male. We've seen a picture from him with a 'Big Pride' female and they were reported mating. However, it is not clear if he forms, or has formed, a coalition with the Chichele male, or that they are merely taking their chances. Time will tell. Let's hope he will form a coalition with the Chichele male and roam the area for at least 2-3 years siring many cubs!"

Many thanks to the Zambia Carnivore Programme Team for all this info.

Watch the video of mum caring for her cubs

Watch the video of the 'Chichele' male AKA "Shakka"

Photo gallery