A lioness carrying a cub in her mouth or a lion swimming the river. Those are definitely two sightings most rangers would have on their bucket list. A wonderful compromise – and I hesitate to use the word – would be what ranger Rich Ferrier and his guest Rae Jensen saw the other day – one of the Tsalala Breakaway lionesses crossing the Sand River with her two little cubs at a point just deep enough to force the youngsters to swim for a little bit.
The female has been denning consistently in the Munghen drainage line a few kilometres to the west of camp. Sightings of her and her cubs have been relatively infrequent, but the cubs both appear to be very healthy.
On this particular morning they were found heading north towards the Sand River, and those in the sighting could scarcely hold their breath in anticipation as the three lions approached the water.
There are a few crossing points where the river is shallow enough to allow an easy wade-through (at least for adult lions) and where the risk of crocodile attack is minimal, and it was at the well known Taylor’s Crossing that the lioness in question chose to lead her cubs to the other side.
The first little section proved the trickiest for the young lions as the water flows quickly through the only channel where their legs would not be able to touch the ground, but with their mother guiding them they managed fine and were soon powering through onto the northern bank.
They headed west in the riverbed itself, moving between the wild date palm thickets and clumps of Phragmites reeds, with the vehicles unable to follow.
The curtain closed on an amazing sighting…
Written by James Tyrrell
Photographed by Rae Jensan – Londolozi Guest