I’ll admit that I was hesitant to do this post. Yes, photos of little cubs and pictures that evoke some kind of protective emotion are a great way to elicit some kind of response on a blog, but being a stereotypical male I was loath to put myself out there as being particularly oversensitive or potentially someone who makes “Goo-goo” and “Ga-ga” noises at babies.
Be that as it may, I am well aware from the multiple game drives I have conducted that the very young animals of the bush have among the greatest impact on guests at Londolozi. Be they lion cubs, elephant calves or the first impala lamb of the season, there is something incredibly appealing in sitting and simply watching a very young animal make its hesitant way in the world, particularly a world like the South African bushveld, where danger could lurk behind every tree or round every corner.
As a result, we decided to put out a compilation of what we feel are some of the cutest photos of young animals we could find. Some have appeared on the blog before, some are old, some are new.
31st December 2011. A date I’ll never forget as it was when – quite by chance – we happened upon a lioness from the Sparta pride moving her newborn litter from one den-site to another. With amazing gentleness despite the awesome crushing power in her jaws, she carried each cub across an open patch in front of us to secrete them in a thicket nearby. Still blind and no more than few days old, lion cubs like this are incredibly vulnerable at this early stage in their lives.
Two of the Tsalala pride’s latest litter watched us sleepily from the fork of a Jackalberry. We had heard the sounds of leopards fighting nearby and were parked in the Manyelethi Riverbed listening intently for further sounds of the conflict, when we happened to glance back and spot these little fur-balls in the tree.
A once-in-a-lifetime sighting. Three blind, newborn leopard cubs huddle quietly in a crevice in a boulder field alongside the Manyelethi riverbed. The Tutlwa female was the mother, and we stumbled upon the den while tracking her along the riverbank. We snapped a quick photo and left, thankful the mother had not been there, else the situation could have been a lot more dangerous.
Elephant calves are among my favourites. With underdeveloped trunk muscles, they just look sort of…well…floppy.
A Tsalala cub clambers awkwardly over a fallen knobthorn trunk
A cub from the Mhangeni pride takes time off from annoying the dark-maned Majingilane to nuzzle up to its mother.
The Nanga cubs get up to mischief in the branches of a gwarrie tree.
A baby vervet monkey clings desperately to its mother in the face of a new and daunting world.
One of the Nanga cubs, still tiny, emerges briefly from its den-site to bond with its mother, the Nanga female. Photograph by Helen Young
A photo of the same sighting. The two Nanga cubs, still displaying the blue eyes of extreme youthfulness, stare curiously back at the camera. Photograph by Helen Young
If you have a favourite, let us know…
Photographed by James Tyrrell and Helen Young