Lion Army is a compelling story following a 28-strong megapride from risky hunting missions to run-ins with the older males.
Filmed in Kruger National Park with breathtaking cinematography, Lion Army recounts the intensity of this pride’s epic struggles.
A tendency for laziness, unwillingness to pitch in with family duties, and boisterous table manners may be typical adolescent behaviour, but the wilderness of South Africa’s Kruger National Park is no place for teen angst. With 26 mouths to feed and nine unruly teenagers not pulling their weight, the seasoned Singita lionesses have their hands full in keeping their megapride from reaching a breaking point.
With more than three times the average number of lionesses in the pride, this Lion Army should be a formidable force that dominates Kruger. However, listless adolescent male lions that have yet to learn hunting techniques, but are adept at claiming the lion’s share of a kill, threaten the pride’s survival. After two leading lionesses and their adult daughters abandon the pride to fend for themselves, matriarch Whitehead must restore order to the pride and teach the juvenile males how to earn their keep.
Perfectly camouflaged in the long grass, Whitehead leads a group of well-trained lionesses and the juvenile males on the hunt. Setting their sights on a grazing giraffe, one lioness drives her prey towards her hunting partners. But, the males are inexperienced and not in position, missing their opportunity to strike. The lions have now gone five days with no kill and the situation is becoming grim. When a hippo enters their midst, the entire megapride must work together – taking down a massive hippo with killer teeth is a dangerous undertaking.
While the females focus in on their target, the adolescents are again listless and uncoordinated, unsure of how to act. Dewclaw, one of the pride’s most skilled female hunters, is caught off-guard as the hippo clamps down 900 kilograms of pressure on her skull. Badly injured, Dewclaw suffers from a brain haemorrhage, damaged right eye and a puncture wound under her neck straight to her mouth, sidelining her from the hunt. Desperate, the female lionesses let out a call for help, hoping to bring home the pride males.
Returning to the pride after more than six months away, the pride’s two mature male lions serve as disciplinarians to a gang of teenagers who have overwhelmed the pride. A buffalo provides the juveniles with a chance to redeem themselves as the entire pride works together to bring down the massive beast that will finally feed the entire pride. But, when one adolescent male refuses to share, the dominant males release their full fury, forcing three young males out of the pride forever. With the remaining male lions now sharpening their hunting prowess, the cycle may begin again after three new family members are introduced to the clan.