After the heart-wrenching story that Calvin wrote about the 7th lion cub comes a story to show how nature has a way of righting all wrongs. During the early hours of the morning the Southern Pride managed to pull down a female buffalo and a calf. Following the tracks the rangers were able to find the Kruger males out on an open area with one of the females and their faces were all bloodied after the feeding. The female got up and led them straight to where their breakfast lay and the sight of two tiny lions cubs mixed in with the pride blew them away.
I left early for the afternoon safari to go and see what was happening at the kill and when we arrived we weaved our way between what appeared to be a massacre of lions. They were all spread out and bursting at the seams after gorging themselves on the buffalo they had pulled down. One of the Kruger males lay possessively with a paw on the carcass and was breathing heavily to keep his body temperature down.
Also lying close to the male was the female with the 2 cubs. These 5-week-old bundles of fur were fighting to get to an exposed nipple and have a feed. As the mother rolled over with cubs still attached to her nipple and clinging on for dear life they then had to reposition themselves.
As the afternoon wore on and the temperature of the hot day started to drop, the lions started becoming more active. The other Kruger male decided he too wanted a bit of the leftovers and started advancing on the carcass but this was met with apprehension from the other male. The male on the carcass suddenly charged at his brother and I was sure there was going to be a fight but instead they both bolted toward the carcass and one of them launched himself on top of the meat trying lay claim to what was left. Due to this commotion the female with the new cubs rolled over and managed to plant herself right on top of one of the cubs and he sat squealing as he squirmed to get out from underneath his mother.
Things started to settle and one of the females then came in to feed with the males but was met by a couple of nasty blows as the males told her in no uncertain terms that she was not welcome at this dinner table. Some of the older cubs also started to approach but because of the close proximity to the female with the new cubs their attempts were halted by her growls. She did not want these cubs getting close to her new-borns for fear that they might injure them.
Eventually one of the older cubs plucked up the courage to make a move for the meat and tried to slink past the female with his head lowered in submission hoping to avoid her wrath but found himself in a world of hurt. She charged at him with intense aggression sending him rolling onto his back again showing submission.
All the commotion finally settled and the little ones began to play and bite each other before testing their strength against mom. She was hardly interested and left herself as a jungle gym for her two adorable male lion cubs.
This is not the end of it though… Just after safari I was called by our MD and told that he had found 6 new lions one the reserve. I had hardly put the phone down and I was dressed and on my way down south to get a look at our new arrivals that had just entered the reserve sometime during the night. The new pride, called the Skukuza Pride, consists of what looks to be 1 full grown female and her adolescent cubs (4 males and 1 female), which I estimate to be between 2½ and 3 years old. As far as we have gathered they are split off from the Southern Pride and the fathers of the cubs could be the Kruger males.
I have seen these lions before when I was working in Kruger and actually saw this female mating. This leaves me wondering if these cubs were conceived when I was watching her mate? What a treat to have such a flurry of activity on the reserve. Now we wait to see whether these lions will stay or if they will once again cross the Sabie River back into Kruger. How will the Southern Pride take to this incursion into their territory? They have already killed off one pride, are these next? We will just have to wait and see.