Makena is a much-respected member of Elsa’s Pride – one of the longest established prides of lions living in Meru National Park, Kenya – our charity’s heartland and where the real-life Elsa was released by Joy and Goege Adamson in 1958.
Here, Elsa’s legacy lives on, and today, the park is home to between 60 and 80- lions. Makena, whose name means one who brings happiness, is one of three adult females which make up Elsa’s Pride, led by males Solio and Mang’erete, and they live wild alongside their many cubs.
Thanks to generous public support, Born Free’s ‘Pride of Meru’ monitoring team is learning so much about the ‘group dynamics’ of Elsa’s Pride, and gaining fascinating insights into wild lion behaviour, all well as the challenges and threats they face.
Makena has given birth to a number of cubs whilst being monitored by our team in 2014. In 2020, the team spotted that Makena was heavily pregnant. Lions have a 110 day gestation so we kept a watchful eye out but, despite our best efforts, were unable to locate her again. This was actually a good sign. Cubs are born helpless, so a lioness keeps them hidden from possible threats for at least two months. You can imagine our delight when, in February, we spotted Makena with two healthy cubs, around three months old.
Makena is not only an amazing mother, she is also a grandmother! In 2021, her eldest two daughters, the Mururi Girls, both gave birth to their first cubs – two sets of twins! We named the youngsters Kiara and Kamili, and Cheri and Queen, and these new cubs are the first members of the pride’s third generation since we began monitoring. In addition, Makena also recently gave birth to more cubs of her own – what a grandma!
Kenya’s lions increased by 25% to 2,500 from 2010 to 2020 which is great news for the species. Across the country, Born Free works collaboratively with our partners to provide ongoing initiatives within communities to monitor and observe wild lions, promote co-existence with local communities to ensure the conservation and survival of wild lions.
Together we can secure a forever future for lions. Please donate today.
Image credits: © BFKenya, Hans Bauer. Artistic representation by Gillie and Marc.