The Nyeleti female and her cubs had been scarce. Her territory fell over sections of the Manyeleti River which was rich in prey, cloaked in ancient trees and shrouded in cover that allowed her to eloquently slip through the dense riverine bushveld. For her cubs it was a playground of termite mounds, sturdy branches and grainy sand which left their footsteps imprinted for days. For the rangers of Londolozi, it was a challenge…
She would periodically be seen with her cubs. Lazing on a rock whilst casting her doting eye over their immature antics. Amused sighs would escape her as branches broke under the increasing weight of her offspring and they went tumbling into the scrub. At seven months they were quickly growing up. She didn’t have long left with this litter before they would leave her to pursue a life on their own.
We last visited this mother and her cubs on the blog in late October 2009 (One Life). Having just begun to eat their mother’s kills, they were starting to grow rapidly and gain a greater hunger for meat. Now three months later, although their juvenile actions and infatuation with their mother’s tail gives away their age, they are pushing on towards maturity.
The bonds between this mother and her cubs are now stronger than ever. She humors them, nurtures them and pays each one its own special piece of attention. Her killer instinct seems hidden and dissolved when she looks at her young. That piercing stare is soft and those deadly paws are playful. She is without question acting in a way that only a mother can. Maternal, caring and reserving that hidden ferocity for those that will try to take it all away from her. She has little reason apart from the life that surrounds her and the boundless joy it gives her. It seems she is whimsical, content and carelessly oblivious to anything else around her. Perhaps this is because she now has her creations relying on her, perhaps her solitary existence has been caught off guard, perhaps she is just happy and perhaps this is just how motherhood works?
Filmed by: Adam Bannister
Written by: Rich Laburn