Growing up as a lion cub is a constant learning process. Unlike us these days, learning quickly for them is ultimately a case of life or death. Their constant play is all about learning the skills that enable them to survive once mom is long gone. The other morning we were fortunate enough to witness a long spell of just such play. Before we knew it, however, what seemed like just another regular morning of messing about turned into a significant life lesson. As the pride walked through the Sand River, a group of Banded Mongoose scattered from the reeds. Most were quick enough to get away. However, one mongoose, injured by one of the lioness and allowed to run free as a practical hunting lesson for the cubs, wasn’t as lucky. The male of the older group of cubs came straeaking across the granite rocks….securing his first ever kill!
One of the younger Tsalala cubs, soaking wet after crossing the Sand River, calls for his mom. At this stage they are entirely dependent on mom for a meal, but that doesn't stop them practicing for the day when they need to fend for themselves
Social bonding amongst lions starts at birth and is important in ensuring a unified pride that not only hunts well together, but also will stick together and defend each other in times of conflict.
Agility-whether avoiding a brutal swipe of a buffallo's horns or the sharp claws of a rival lion, having the awareness and agility to get out of the way will prove invaluable.
One of the younger cubs jumps on the back of one of the older, much larger cousins-perfect practice for one day being able to drag down a big bufallo
The Trip-another classic hunting move especially useful for bringing down fast, more agile prey, one of the cubs attempts to trip another by swiping at the back leg.
One of the younger Tsalala cubs stalks a sibling. Even at this age they already have a keen sense of the movements required in order to sneak up on prey.
Attack! The moment this Tsalala cub grew up! After a short chase the young male pounces on the banded mongoose.
The unfortunate mongoose tries in vain to escape the young lion's already formidable paws.
The older cubs are looking more and more like "real" lions these days-and playing the part as well after their first kill.