Every once in a while I find myself in a sighting where words simply cannot do justice to the whole story! Just sitting quietly, wide-eyed, gobsmacked and in awe of what is unfolding in front of you. This was one of those moments. The three 8-9 week old Sparta Pride lion cubs were playing on a sand bank in the river. Watched on by their mother and the two ‘Sparta Orphans’ they proceeded to run, jump, pull, hit, bite, snarl, growl and purr.

The english language just does not have enough power and emotion sometimes…

Messing around on the banks of the Sand River

All three cubs are looking exceptionally fit and healthy

Learning to stalk at a very young age

Eyes locked on the prey…target in sight

Mission accomplished!

Big hits are all part of the game

Play time under the watchful gaze of mom

Or just using mom as a play toy

Written, filmed and photographed by Adam Bannister

Filed under Photography Wildlife

About the Author

Adam Bannister

Guest contributor

Ranger at Londolozi Game Reserve

View Adam's profile


on Sparta Lion Cubs Just want to Play!

Margarita Doychinova

Thank you!!! They are so cute!!!! I am agree “The english language just does not have enough power and emotion sometimes…”, but not english only, any language ….I hope they will survive and will become big lions and lionesses !!!

Claire and Paul

Once again thank you for such beautiful photographs and also the video (love the music)…. glad to hear that the Sparta orphans are still with the pride.


Brilliant Adam! puts a smile on the face for the day 🙂


Were they training how to team up on a hyena? Hehe..


He he he, what fun! Loved this blog. The photo of the cub with the branch brought on extra giggles. I would have loved to hear those cub noises, snarls, growls and purrs, instead of the music. Still fun to watch though. Thanks for the giggles.

Tim Long

Thanks Adam.. Love the photos and the blog.. read before I took my trip and avid follower now that I have been there.. Any word on the older cubs.. I was there a few weeks ago when they were with the pride again but have not heard anything since..

Thanks for keep us close to the place we love..


Tim Long

Sorry I guess I need to read and not enjoy the pictures.. Thanks.


I love to read your blog every day. very beautiful pictures. Love those cuties. they are so adorable. Thanks.

James T

Amazing photos bud! Super jealous! Was this when they were off Dudley Riverbank?

Zach Hershman

Such a great way to start my day though the one cub getting picked on may not feel the same as I do. Thank you for sharing that video with us.


Adam, you continue to produce amazing creative work, what a joy to follow the Blog…..We fell in love with Londolozi, last March and that love lives on through your daily entries. I have shared the Blog link with friends and they too have become avid Canadian followers . Thank you for all your hard work…

Jody Morrison

Adam, You have outdone yourself. Terrific pics and great commentary. These little ones are just too cute for words. I absolutely loved the “mission accomplished” pic. Thank you for always bringing us such great windows into the bush.


Made me smile. Thanks for your wonderful posts.

Courtney M

Holy cuteness, Batman! Great footage and stills, Adam! I especially love the mid-air knock down shot. I was lucky enough to witness 2 young cubs at play on a couple of occasions during my magical stay with you guys. One of my favorite pictures I took was of one of the cubs with a huge ball of ele dung in her mouth. She was carrying it around and swatting it like a toy! Making do with what was available. Crazy adorable. Do the adults ever play with the young ones or each other? Or is it all business once they reach maturity?

John Holley

Amazing shots Ad!


Des petites merveilles (as the french would say!!) – you do bring us magic moments on this blog – lucky guests on board with you Adam!

elaine leibsohn

I can not wait to see these cubs when i am there next week!!!!

Judy Guffey

“Mission Accomplished”…..what a fantastic shot.

Evette Hartig

Thank you so much for sharing the adventures of the cubs, I read the blogs often and hold my breath that they will survive. I so enjoyed watching these cubs during our stay, they bring such excitement and joy to see.

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