Lion Army

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Sunday 26 July, 8.30pm

In Kruger National Park there is a hunting force that rivals anything else in Africa – a lion pride, 28 members strong. Despite the females’ hunting prowess, nine adolescent males dominate every kill. Bigger and stronger, they bully their way to the best spots on the carcass. The pride’s two powerful males could easily enforce discipline, but with them away on patrol, the unruly youngsters are running riot. When eight strong lionesses split from the pride, food pressure mounts as the remaining females struggle to cater for their sons’ growing demands. Unfocused, uncoordinated and ineffective hunters, the youngsters offer no support to ease the strain. When a lioness is severely injured during a hippo hunt, the adult females call to the pride males for help. Their visits may be infrequent but as the head of the family it’s their duty to protect the females and respond if help is needed. During a heated food fight, they drive three juveniles from the pride forever. A new attitude grips the remaining youngsters; they begin to help on the hunts and succeed in bringing down prey. As time marches on, pride dynamics change again. New cubs are welcomed into the family and the pride males return home.

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