The faces in my car were all smiles; the most satisfied and happy silence I have ever experienced. Everyone stared down between the rocks. We had all fallen in love…fallen in love for the delightful scene playing out in front of our very eyes…fallen in love with the Tsalala Ten!
We were watching the newest arrivals of the Tsalala Pride as they were being introduced to the concept of meat. Late the previous night, or early that morning, the 2 adult Tsalala sisters had managed to kill a kudu in a rocky section of the Manyeleti riverbed. The kill-site was a couple of hundred yards from where the precious 4 cubs have been being stashed away on a koppie overlooking the area we call Marthly Pools.
The first lioness went off and fetched the four older cubs bringing them into position to enjoy the feed. A while later and the second mother decided that the timing was right to head back to the den and bring back the newest cubs…
We watched spell bounded as the cubs, born on the 29th May 2011, played around with the meat, clumsily running around the carcass unsure of what it all meant. This was a very big moment for us all, lions and humans alike. A rare privilege!
We, as a guiding team, have been exceptionally fortunate with this newest set of cubs to have found them on the day they were born; to have found where they moved their den-site to and then to have witnessed their first taste of meat. This is indeed a pride that sits very closely to all our heats and we watch on in earnest to see how they develop.
At a time where lion dynamics are sitting on a knives edge and chances are that a ‘Battle of the Sands’ between the Majingilanesand Matimbas may indeed take place; we can only hope that these 8 cubs can avoid trouble. I have said it before and will say it again; if the Tsalala Pride play their cards right and get a bit of luck along the way then we could be looking at the next super pride of the Sabi Sands!
Written and Filmed by Adam Bannister
Photographed by: James Hobson and Francesca Grima