It is not often one gets to spend time with the same animals on three consecutive drives. The nature of the business means that you are invariably looking for leopards on one drive, lions the next and elephants after that, or some variation on the theme. Recently though, I was fortunate enough to be with the Sparta lionesses and their new cubs for three drives in a row.
Drive One was the first time I had seen the cubs, and we were treated to the sight of the mother fetching them from the nearby Tamboti thicket in which she had been stashing them, and bringing them to out to the other lionesses who were lazing about in the sun. We spent a very special hour watching the little ones play and suckle alternately while the older lionesses kept a protective eye on them.
That afternoon, after I had dropped off my guests at the airstrip, I jumped on drive with another ranger and we set out for the clearing on which the pride had been left. A fruitless 90 minute search of the area yielded no results, and we were giving up hope in the fading light when a last scan of the thicket line revealed three very curious little faces peering out at us. The cubs had been left in hiding by the pride, and as it is our policy not to view young cubs without the protection of their mother, we were preparing to move out after a brief view, when we heard the telltale sounds of growling lions on a kill from about 200m to our south. Racing to the scene, we were greeted by the sight of the four adult lionesses snarling at each other while devouring a recently killed impala ram. The blood-red setting sun only served to add drama to an already dramatic scene.
After an amazing day’s lion viewing, we nevertheless decided to return to the area the next morning to try for a better and longer view of the cubs than we had had in the evening. We were not disappointed, as we soon located the pride with the cubs in tow. Only a few minutes after we had found them, the nearby roars of the Majingilane coalition caused slight concern amongst the lionesses, and they moved the little ones closer to the thicket. They stayed out in the open however, and so began one of the most magical hours I have ever spent in the bush, as the three tiny cubs gamboled about, annoying their mother and aunties with their antics, but providing the most delightful entertainment for those of us privileged enough to be present.
What struck me most about these three very different drives was the transition of the mother lioness from loving, protective motherhood when with her cubs to snarling savagery at the kill. Same animal, two different faces.
Written, Filmed and Photographed by: James Tyrrell
Filed under Photography Wildlife
Great to see these little cubs , the pics are amazing . Anything about the 2 older cubs , there is no reference about them ..?
Thank You for the wanderfull story!!!! The cubs are marvelous and lovely!!! I like them !!! I respect from the motherhood of lionesses .
Beauty in playful packaging – James the stalking and playing photo is GORGEOUS !!! Here’s wishing you many more magical hours in their presence.
Great shots JT, unfortunately my veiw out the finance window onto the workshop hasn’t included a view of the cubs yet, but hopefully soon!
Love it..thank you:)
Mele the 2 older cubs were doing fine the last time we saw them. They are east of our boundary at the moment and haven’t been seen for 48 hours, but were last viewed in the company of the three other Sparta lionesses (without the mother of the younger cubs) and the hip-scar Majingilane male. Let’s hope they are sensible enough to remain with the pride…
Thank you James. Sounds like you had a couple magical days. Awesome shot of the lioness on the kill. Of course loved the cubs. Perfect! Thanks again for sharing.
What fantastic photos and update – thank you do much! So lovely to see the cubs – we looked for them on drive a few weeks ago, but they were in hiding in the den and we only saw the lioness . This now completes the picture.
Lion cubs are just so gorgeous, thanks for sharing with us.
Many thanks James
Thank you for the information. the pictures ar perfect and the cubs are adorable.
Thanks for the feedback everyone. We were very lucky to have the cubs in short grass and with beautiful lighting. The photo of the Majingilane male was thrown in as an extra as he was only about 400m from the cubs, and his roaring on the 2nd mornings drive prompted the mother to move the cubs slightly, which resulted in them being in the clearing, so i guess we have him to thank…
aw, they are adorable! Excited that there are young cubs there, as we will be at Londolozi in just over 3 weeks – hope we get to see them!!!
gracias !!!! muy bueno el informe !!!!b