I never thought that an inanimate object like a dead tree could become a source of such delight, but the 9 cubs of the Mhangeni Pride were to prove me wrong a few days ago.
They were found in the morning by ranger Richard Ferrier lying at Ximpalapala Pan, about 100m from where we had stopped for drinks the night before (when we had been looking for them without much success), so in the afternoon we headed back to the koppie to see if they were still around. Fortunately for us it was a cloudy day and the pride was still lying out in the open, not in the shade as they probably would have been if the sun was out. A couple of the adult females were showing interest in something up on the slopes of the rocky outcrop, but soon gave up the hunt and returned to their cubs.
The stars all aligned that afternoon, with the weather, the setting and the energy levels of the cubs all playing into our hands. We sat there, the only vehicle around, for a good 2 hours as the cubs played, gambolled, frolicked, or whatever word you want to use, simply revelling in the sheer delight of being alive.
A fallen Knobthorn tree was their stage, we were the audience. The scene was set for a wonderful afternoon in the bush.
Enjoy this footage of what is still most definitely Londolozi’s favourite pride:
Written and Filmed by James Tyrrell