Cubs On The Move
It was 10:15 am and we were heading back to camp after taking part in game counts on the other end of the Conservancy. We were about half a kilometre away from the camp when we spotted beige figures moving through the bush on our left hand side, not far from the road. There were 2 adult lionesses and five young cubs, 3 slightly younger than the other two. It was clear to see that there was Lokoman and Esiriwua, the two lionesses from the Sampu Enkare pride.
They were moving quite quickly through the bus with the cubs running after their mothers, overtaking and playing with one another. The lionesses had clearly decided to abandon their original nursery den at Rocky Crossing and head for somewhere new. This is normal lion behaviour as moving dens will stop the threat of other lions and predators getting too familiar with the whereabouts of the vulnerable little beasts. For as long as they have the cubs the lionesses have to remain as elusive as they possibly can.
At this time in the morning it had started to heat up and the lionesses sat a couple of times, needing to take a rest from the journey they were undertaking. The cubs however seemed to relish the adventure and were keen to play with each other or whatever they could find. However they were always quick to come to mum or 'auntie' for some reassurance and affection when needed.
This was the perfect time to move the cubs, with the day becoming warmer any other lions or predators will be resting up in the sun away from the heat. This leaves the two mothers with the best chance to move their cubs undisturbed. Our guide Francis seemed to think that the mothers were hungry and that this prompted their move. Perhaps they had exhausted the supply of available prey at Rocky Crossing and had no other option to move their cubs to find more viable hunting grounds. Without any food the survival of the five cubs would be in peril.
The cubs were busy calling to one another and their mothers, craving the attention and security of having other lions round, something their survival depends on at such a young age. Both mothers remained calm but wary of the vehicle as they moved through the bush and on to the road. Both of them were used to vehicles and knew that we would cause them no harm. After they had crossed the road they headed into the plain where Francis said he saw some wildebeest. Hopefully we will see them all feasting on one soon.
The cubs looked truly tiny as they walked across the road and the younger ones could be no older than 2 months old. Lokoman and Esiriwua both moved independently but clearly on the same mission together. They walked side by side with cubs following intently and only once did they stop for physical contact - A head rub and a friendly snarl.
Seeing the mothers and cubs here was an amazing privilege, especially considering how young the cubs were. These cubs were part of the future of the conservancy and represented a new generation of lions fathered by the Rekero coalition.