The Moniko pride are undoubtably the most successful pride in the Conservancy. The main lion attraction and a formidable pride who have successfully raised many cubs over the seasons. The latest count for this pride is eighteen with seven cubs, spread around their territory which sits in the very heart of the Conservancy. Two dominant males – Baranoti and Lolpopit – roam between the girls keeping the pride intact and ensuring the next generations.
In 2010 they had such a good year that the pride grew to a total of 28 lion and subsequently split when the annual migration went south and the larder was left a little wanting for 28 mouths. At the same time the two old males Lose Tooth (named because for nearly a year he had one canine that dangled after a fierce fight) and his side kick were deposed by Lolpopit (named for the tear in his ear) and Barnoti (maa for the hairy one). The new pair took over the core of the pride of six females and nine cubs. Luckily the Moniko Mums have a fearsome reputation and they left the cubs alone. The males were pushed out of the pride when they came of age and are regularly seen causing trouble with other prides in the Reserve.
Today the Moniko pride are back up to 18 strong – 2 males, 6 females and 10 adolescent cubs, 7 small cubs and more possibly on the way. They rule this prime territory with Barnotti and Lolpopit stealing off to elope with the girls next door whenever they get the opportunity.
This pride can often be seen as they leave their headquarters on Moniko hill followed by a stream of tumbling cubs.
Several new cubs have joined the pride. Occupying their favorite place on the top of Moniko Hill, making the most of the abundance of plains game and remaining migrating wildebeest.
We thought that we had lost one of the smallest cubs who had been introduced to the pride rather early and whilst mother was elsewhere some of the rambunctious teenagers played with the new cubs as though they were rag dolls. The next day we were relieved to see all the smallest cubs were present. However in the next week one was lost whether it was to Buffalo or some other predator we will never know.
The two surviving cubs are now boisterous youngsters and have been joined by two more little cubs born around New Year. This little unit of four cubs and their Mums have kept clear of the main pride with all the other adolescents out hunting on the Kicheche plains between the lava ridge and Enkoyanai and doing very well.
Unfortunately some members of the Moniko pride raided a maasai boma (homestead) on our eastern boundary killing one cow and seriously injuring three more. Our patrol vehicle rushed to the scene to help and prevented any further losses. At this time of year when the grass is long and game is scarce and fit livestock predation takes a sharp rise. It is now that the Conservancies’ controlled grazing policies take effect as the availability of grazing, especially during hard dry spells, is greatly appreciated by our surrounding communities. This appreciation is shown by the communities’ tolerance towards marauding prides. The Olare Motorogi Trust also runs a predator-proof boma construction project where they assist with 50% financing and construction of predator-proof bomas for livestock in high risk areas. In the six months this project has been running the Trust has constructed seven bomas and already we are seeing a significant drop in attacks compared to last season. Unfortunately the boma that was attacked early morning of the 13th February was a temporary boma in which the owner of the cattle did not intend to stay very long.