Over the past few days the Southern Pride have been very actively moving through the reserve in search of food. The dryness of the bush and the lack of nutrition for the herbivores has opened up many opportunities for the pride to cash in on their weakened prey and has led to an abundance of meat meaning that the once tiny cubs are not so tiny anymore!
Finding the pride on a freshly killed buffalo was especially rewarding as the whole pride tucked into the meal. The abundance of food and the cool overcast weather from the impending cold front meant that all the cubs and sub adults were full of energy. We watched as the sub adults chased each other around in what appeared to be a game of tag using the buffalo’s tail to show who was ‘it’. They took turns to run around with their prize before having it stolen by one of their siblings.
The cubs moved around and tried to find a seat at the dinner table, throwing their insignificant weight around with loud attacks on the much larger females. Once in a while they were put back into their place with a swift paw to their head, which quickly brought their manners back into play. It wasn’t long though before they forgot about the last hiding and the process started all over again.
After the buffalo was finished, not more than a day and a half later, it was time to digest. The adults lay legs sprawled in the air as they processed the massive intake of meat. The cubs and sub adults had other ways to deal with the consumption of food and that was to play. Play is a vital part of the growth of all animals and the cubs and sub adults chased each other launching themselves onto the backs of their target and practised the very typical moves that would be used when they got older and were part of the hunt.
This went on for nearly an hour as we watched the cubs scaling a nearby termite mound and used it as a launch point to surprise one of the other cubs on the other side. What an amazing sighting of these majestic creatures learning their trade in the form of fun.