The lions cubs have come along in leaps and bounds since we first saw them in February of this year, 7 months down the line and 8 of the original 9 cubs are still alive and well. I will never forget the first time we saw them, they could not have been older than 10 days tiny little fluff balls still blind stumbling around there mothers completely oblivious to the dangers that surround them. Our first photo’s of them came about a week later when we managed to track one of the mothers back to her den sight, this was our first proper look at 3 of the 9 new pride members
Over the next week we manged to find all the den sights for all 3 litters and it was then that we got an exact number of 9 new member’s, 5 females and 4 males,of the Olifants West Pride. For the first 2 months the mothers keep the cubs separate from the rest of the pride allowing them to build up the strength and all-round awareness. It wasn’t until they were 3 months old before our first sighting of all 9 cubs together, this was truly and exciting day!! Myself and Eric where following tracks for one of the mothers leading her 3 cubs in the direction of the rest of the pride, little were we to know that she was leading us to our first sighting of the cubs together.
Over the next few days the cubs were hidden along a drainage line which the pride has been using for years to hide there cubs, so when we approached the den sight the next morning expecting to find the cubs playing around we found the limp body of 1 of the cubs and no sign for the rest of them, after investigating the corpse of the cub we found puncture marks from a snake bite which must have caused the death of this cub. On average the mortality rate of cubs is approximately 30% so for 8 of the 9 cubs to still be with us is an exception to the law. Our next sighting of the cubs was on a zebra which the mothers had managed to kill and this made for some amazing viewing of the cubs over the next couple of days.
Since then the cubs have been giving us hours of entertainment on game drive and the more we see them the more each one’s character is beginning to show through. They are currently around 7 months old and are at that age where every little thing needs to be investigated or chewed on. I really look forward to the next few years as we continue to watch them grow and explore the wide open spaces of the Balule Nature Reserve.