Watching the growth in strength and confidence of four cubs belonging to a resident lioness has been quite entertaining as well as a nerve-wracking experience.
While this lioness has been exceptionally successful in raising these four youngsters well past a year now, their journey has been a rocky one. Posing for a picture perfect “Pride Rock” moment, mum and cubs were lazing about on a rocky outcrop on a morning game drive.
Photo by unknown guest
While the lioness and two cubs lay just out of sight behind the ridge, two of the cubs were confidently standing their ground, at only 5 months of age, while watching an impala ram bewilderingly make his way straight towards the lions. Confused by our appearance to his left and the overwhelming smell of lion in the area, he looked quite dazed as he continued in the direction of the lions – obviously, the wind was not in his favour.
Once right upon the sleeping lions, complete shock saved the impala’s life as the unbeknownst lions were frightened right out of their mid-morning catnap. After the shock wore off and the impala was well out of hunting distance, the cats returned to their slumber.
On another occasion – around the same age – the cubs’ bravery was tested by a massive bull elephant in a face-off between four young lion cubs and a 3-tonne male elephant. The cubs confidently stood their ground until the sheer size was suddenly realised as the elephant drew near and the cubs eventually backed down.
Photo by James Orton
Over 6 months down the line and the cubs are really showing their strength and showing off just how much they’ve learned – although not quite perfected – from mum. In an awkward attempt to stalk and kill a warthog, the lioness chased the warthog straight towards a game viewer, a bad miscalculation by the warthog who made a very wrong turn straight into four hungry young lions. They successfully managed to restrain and kill the young warthog and after a quick meal, it, unfortunately, was stolen by two of their uncles.
Photos by Frank Henning (guest)
One occasion really showed their youth and inexperience. While the lioness had taken down a large female wildebeest, the cubs were playfully trying to take down the wildebeest’s unfortunate calf. After a long period of rather playing with the calf, it was eventually put to rest when hunger became a priority to the cubs.
Photos by Jian Sarah Du Plooy/James Orton
Written by: Jian Sarah Du Plooy