We are incredibly excited to announce the addition of another 3 lions to the Tsalala Pride! These tiny cubs are now just 3 weeks old and are the very first litter of the younger Tsalala female, a lioness with an incredible legacy. This pride has been through so much turmoil of late and as such, it is fantastic to be able to announce this heart-warming news.
The lioness is denning these cubs in the Manyaleti River, close to Marthly Pools, an area she has spent much of her life. What is strange about her behaviour though is how she has given birth to these cubs whilst staying with the rest of the pride. Typically lionesses will move off on their own, give birth and only re-introduce their youngsters when their eyes open and they are more capable of fending for themselves. This lioness however never left the pride, which is one of the reasons we became aware of these youngsters from such a young age. Strangely she allows the slightly older cubs of about three months to rough and tumble with the tiny newborns and seems rather oblivious to their calls for help. Being the sole survivor of a litter of 8 and having had a difficult upbringing, one is left to wonder if she is trying to toughen them up?
Prior to her sexual maturity this lioness spent much of her time running from male lions. Although she was fathered by the Majingilane, we believe some of them did not recognise their paternity of her, which meant that whenever they saw her, they attempted to kill her. Some of her siblings and cousins met their fate this way, whilst others were killed by buffalo or swept away in a raging Sand River. What this meant for this lioness was that whenever the Majingilane made an appearance, she would have to run from the pride, fend for herself for days at a time and only re-join once the males had moved on.
Since the Majingilane have moved west, the Matimba males have come south to replace them, forcing the Tsalala tailless lioness to break away from the pride and raise the 4 sub adults alone. Finally though, a bit of stability seems to have been restored to this pride in the form of these tiny, new, spotted additions.
The first video below shows the cubs being carried by their mother at just one week old! The second is at 3 weeks and shows these short-legged, uncoordinated, barrel-bellied babies being groomed and attempting to play with their mother and each other.
It really has been the greatest privilege and joy to be exposed to such incredibly young lions, certainly the youngest lions I have ever seen. We are so grateful that these lionesses are relaxed enough to show them to us and we hope you enjoy meeting them as much as we have.
First Video by Don Heyneke
Second Video by Amy Attenborough