Last week’s beautiful Week in Pictures by Simon Smit featured a number of photographs of lions on the sands of the Manyelethi Riverbed. Myself and Simon were driving a photographic group at the time, and had found the lions at the same spot the morning before. Simon and tracker Lucky Shabangu were on foot, following the lion’s trail, when tracker Euce pulled off a fantastic spot from high on the cliffs overlooking the Manyelethi. Glimpsing movement far below, he indicated that I should reverse, and there was the pride, emerging from the thicket line to drink from a pool in the riverbed, very close to where Simon and Lucky were following their tracks, barely 100 m away. The lions had full bellies, and whilst we managed to manoeuver the vehicles down into the sand for a closer view, there was not a lot of activity from the pride and we left soon afterwards.
Waking before dawn the following day, Simon was pretty sure he had heard the roars of male lions from somewhere near where we had seen the pride, and we decided to head back to the spot to see if the Majingilane coalition might be in attendance, and also if we could get the beautiful morning light on the pride for some photographs.
Our luck was in!
Positioning the vehicles on eye-level with the lions, close to where they were sleeping on a sandbank (just the sleeping pride at first, so initial disappointment) we settled down to wait and see what would happen.
As the light strengthened, three of the Majingilane emerged from the thicket line, one by one. The dawn turned into day, and with it came high spirits amongst the cubs of the pride. Revelling in the warmth of a new day, they chased each other around, picking up sticks, annoying the males, and simply delighting in being alive.
Some of the photos here are very similar to Simon’s, as the best moments had us both reaching for our cameras, but I felt I also needed to share some shot of one of the best lion sightings I’ve had in recent months!
Photographed by James Tyrrell
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