Every now and then we are fortunate enough to experience a feel-good sighting, one that leaves us buoyed up for days. In a harsh place like the African bush, it is refreshing to witness moments of light-heartedness in the animals we view here. Although we try and avoid ascribing human emotions and traits to animals, there is no doubt in my mind that there are instances in which comparisons can be made.
Animals can have fun. One only has to watch a herd of elephants splashing around in the river to appreciate this. Lions and their cubs will revel in each other’s company, and monkeys will indulge in endless games of catch-me-if-you-can around the camp lawns (although I’m sure the monkeys call it something different). Although ‘play’ in the animal kingdom may purely be a developmental part of growth, helping cubs and calves hone various skills and instincts, it is almost arrogant to think that only humans are able to get enjoyment out of life.
The Mashaba female and her cub, well fed and with energy to burn, recently treated us to some wonderful interaction as they tumbled around for over an hour, play-fighting, climbing trees and chasing each other all over the show.
Were they having fun or was the cub simply in training for later life? You be the judge…
Photographed by James Tyrrell, Londolozi Ranger