“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Warning: I’d recommend reading part I before getting to this one, just a suggestion.
Also this post is PG-13
continuation from part I …
Charm, good looks and a dark mane were part of Skondla Kondla’s good fortune, which ensured that the lionesses quickly changed loyalties. There was a new king of the pride of Thanda, and he wanted to take charge. Narnia (the mother and the wife of Tyela) & Nala, weren’t too pleased with it, but Nikita (one of the younger lionesses), saw this as an opportunity to rise in power. She knew that if she played her cards right, her cub to be will be the next in line for the throne, and so the enchantment began. This half of the drama enfolded in front of my eyes so its a first hand account.
The pride of Thanda had Skondla as the lion in charge along with Narnia, Nala, Naomi & Nikita as its lionesses. For whatever reason Nala and Narnia were close to each other and Nikita and Naomi used to hangout together. Regarding the past, Skondla wasn’t aware of the existence of Tyela and Nala’s cubs, and hence they were safe for the time being. Nala and Narnia were always Tyela’s favourite lionesses, but they weren’t getting the same royal treatment with Skondla. And as mentioned above, Nikita wanted to take advantage of this situation so she made the first move. After the love and affection, Skondla and her got close, a little too close I suppose. She was in heat and Skondla wanted to establish his authority. So this happened (see below).
Nikita got pregnant and she was slowly inching towards becoming Skondla’s alpha queen. This irked Nala and Narnia and that is when the conspiring began.
One sunny afternoon drive, we saw Nala and Narnia a little more active than usual. As we got closer to them, we saw they had company, Nala’s cubs Nina and Nora were learning hunting skills from them and they were just sharing a small catch amongst themselves. (As most of us know, in a lion pride’s patriarchal world, the lionesses hunt but typically the lion has first rights over the food. Humans conveniently imbibed the patriarchy from nature, ignoring the beautifully managed Elephant herd run by matriarchs.) Back in the den though, with Nikita pregnant and out of action, Nala and Narnia refused to hunt whole heartedly for the pride, which meant Skondla was not being fed well. We could hear his agonising hungry roar many times at night but Nala and Nikita were playing the ‘we aren’t efficient hunters so we can’t help it’ card. Their plan was working and Skondla was slowly turning weaker.
Later that week, after almost 10 days of no food for Skondla, Nikita and Naomi, the entire pride was eyeing a creche of impalas to catch some cheap prey. Five of them and two of our jeeps were in the middle of the action when suddenly we hear a young firm roar encircling us and threatening the pride’s territory. This roar not only was constantly moving around us but also ensured that the creche was driven away. It was a threat to Thanda’s pride, Skondla’s pride, his rage came to the fore as he disappeared in the darkness to chase the roar. While Skondla was busy pursuing the roar, out from nowhere came Nico, Nyika, Nina and Nora to meet their mother. They had set up a well planned decoy for Skondla, so they could reunite with their pride. Skondla wasn’t going to take this lying down. He heard the activity and rushed back with as he gave a loud roar to chase Nico and the others off. His intensity and ferocity more than made up for his lean body. His limbs were still agile and his paw still as intimidating. He was still king and Nico realised he had a long way to go before he could come close to taking on even a starving Skondla.
Skondla caught onto the lies and deceit and he immediately subjugated Tyela to re-establish his status of power. He impregnated Narnia and Nala and he began hunting for himself periodically, not relying solely on the lionesses, to keep his good fortune in tact. As far as Nico was concerned, he intermittently came to meet Nala but only when there was no Skondla around.
This was the first animal drama that I ever witnessed, and through those 4 weeks, I could see the ups and downs, the emotions, the excitement and the pride dynamics. Every ride was a new discovery and every moment was a piece of puzzle fitting into the larger scheme of things. There are so many things that you learn while living amongst wildlife, such as the fight for survival and the various methods of managing groups. Additionally such experiences further personify animals, which help increase awareness of wildlife conservation and how humans can co-exist with them. Hopefully this answers all the questions about my passion for wildlife, and hopefully this ignites someone else’s passion for conservation and volunteering. Happy to take any questions over email.
The dark dense mane, snatching an established reign,
to survive in the wild, is to establish a domain,
there too is drama, deceit and death,
but the smartest survive, and the weak complaininfinite explorer