On the evening safari my tracker, Phios, and I decided that we were going to head to the southern section of our reserve. The plan was to go down towards the Sabie River and enjoy the changing topography, and after we had had sundowners we would try finding the Southern Pride.
As things go in the bush, plans can change quite suddenly. As we made our way slowly towards the river, Phios turned in his seat and said to me that we should change our direction and head to a rocky outcrop as he had a feeling we might find one of the Southern Pride females at her suspected den site.
We have had suspicions that one of the pride females might be hiding her cubs in the rocky outcrop as she had been seen entering and exciting the formation. However, we had no signs of the cubs.
Deciding to try our luck and see if we could pick up on any sign of the female we were also silently hoping that we might have the privilege to be the first group of people to document the new additions to this amazing pride.
As luck would have it, as we made our way towards the rock formation my tracker picked up on the tracks of a lone female lion heading straight towards the formation.
After making a loop around the rocky outcrop without success, Phios told me to make one last loop as he was certain that she was amongst the rocks. As we did this last loop, we were loosing hope of finding the cubs and we contemplated moving on. Then it happened, Phios gave me the characteristic risen hand that appears once he thinks he is on to something. Pointing at the rocky outcrop he said to us “I think I saw a lions tail flick.” With that, all the binoculars were out scanning the rocks, with none of us having any luck.
“Look at the base of the outcrop, she is lying down” Phios said to us. After repositioning we could all see the female lying down. It looked as if she was standing guard. With patience we waited to see if in fact the cubs were also there.
After ten or so minutes of patiently waiting, it all happened. The female got up and lay down on a rock within perfect view of us. The cubs high pitched contact calls could then be heard. It was as if she was desperate to show us her youngsters.
Three young, adorable balls of fur then emerged from the rocks to come and play around their proud mother. Privileged and in awe, we then viewed the youngsters as they played amongst the rocks and their mother. They were looking far too cute for their own good.
With that, as the light started to disappear and as the day turned to night, we moved out of the area. We headed for the Sabie River for the guests to enjoy a “celebratory” drink after our amazing sighting.
Not surprisingly, the topic of conversation for the rest of the drive was based on our discovery. All of us were left in amazement that the female let us into this intimate part of her life and had been so accepting of us.
All in all, another amazing day at the office.
BY: JOSH LEE (BUSH LODGE RANGER)