The act of motherhood

Lions are known to be the most sociable and family orientated cats in Africa. If a lioness has cubs, unlike the father, she will be an amazing mother who will protect her babies from anything. Despite a mother’s love for her cubs, unfortunately, the survival rate of lion cubs is extremely low – about 30% from when they are born to the age of about two years. This is due to many factors, such as other lions or even an act of vengeance by a raging herd of buffalo.

Nevertheless, one of our females has done an extremely good job taking care of her two little ones. She has kept them away from the other lions for about a year now in order to ensure their safety. We all thought that she would stay on her own with her two cubs but just the other day they were found sharing a kill with our dominant male lion and lioness. We were stunned yet happy. However, this did not last very long. After a day or two she moved off with her cubs again.

Despite this introduction to the other lions, the cubs, or rather sub-adults are still your typical lion cubs. Their size (almost as big as their mother) does not stop them from being the young “cubs” that they are. They still play with each other and their mother – sometimes climbing up into trees, chasing each other, realizing that getting down is not as easy as getting up. This child play is important for these sub-adults as they are still building up their strength to be able to hunt on their own one day.

Staying with their mother is also very important. Never mind their dependence on her for protection and survival, but she will teach them all the necessary tools they will need in order to engage in a successful hunt. And I must say, she is doing an exceptional job.

These lions have shown and taught us so many things about their interactions and experiences – even their emotions. And I am sure that we all cannot wait to see what we will learn next.

Kim Pretorius – River Lodge
27/05/2012

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