A Day in the Life of Ngamo Cubs

25 02 2012

As lilacs and pinks flood the early morning sky a little cub gently licks the sparkling dew off a delicate grass blade.  Nearby, her brother, half-sisters, aunts, mother and father are settling in to watch the sun rise over the Ngamo release site.  After a sleepy night safely hidden in the den whilst the adults searched for prey through the darkness, our little cub stretches and steps out into the light.

When left alone in the den she and her siblings instinctually understand the protection provided by mum, dad and the pride has gone; all are on their best behaviour so as not to attract any unwanted attention from predators. Although there are no other large carnivores, elephant or buffalo in Ngamo the large resident snakes and frequent eagles pose a formidable threat to the young cubs when exposed and alone.

When the adults return, dropping the safety net over their cubs, playtime can commence.

The now golden morning rays descend upon the pride and the cubs of the Ngamo crèche come to life with a bang.  Mock-battles rage as tails are pulled and paws are bitten; its every cub for themselves. Play bouts amongst the youngsters may appear as mere fun, but these interactions are crucial for their development.   So what sort of play will this young female cub engage in today? Perhaps some social play with her brother in the morning, followed by a lunch time of object play with a mean looking bush, a quick spot of predatory play upon some unsuspecting guinea fowl and finish the day off with some locomotory play by running as fast as she can through the bush to beat everyone else!

Research of wild prides has shown lion cubs engage in and exhibit social play more often than any other play type. This type, often the most conspicuous, helps cubs form and maintain social bonds vital for adulthood within a pride. Other young felids, such as cheetah cubs, engage in locomotory play far more often than social play as a means of improving neuromuscular development and to aid flight response. Cheetah cubs are often at an even higher risk of predation than lion cubs, often from lions; therefore it is vital their cubs are able to flee quickly enough from a young age. Yet the kings of the jungle can afford to mess around socially with one another, within the safety of the pride,  as no one messes with mum and dad!

After a tiring day of play, and finally waking up the adults, its time for a thorough bath and a good feed.  Our little cub flops down upon her mothers fore paws and grasps her face to greet her. Mother begins to lick her cub from head to tail removing any ticks and dirt picked up during the day and cementing further the bond between mother and daughter

Once fresh and clean the Ngamo cub expresses her hunger with ear piercing cries and eventually convinces mum to roll over so she can have dinner.  The cub fights for her place to tuck into a fantastically healthy meal of mother’s milk bursting from her teats, sustained after her own huge zebra meal from the day before.

Once contently full the Ngamo cub snuggles into her mothers chest licking her lips and paws before slowly drifting off into a deep catnap…

About these ads

Actions

Information

5 responses

25 02 2012
slovakianchic

Absolutely beautifully written!! Who is writing the blog now??

25 02 2012
Greentracker

I really liked this post and found it most interesting, I didn’t know what “felid” meant, and I had to look it up, but nevertheless I learnt something new as I usually do when reading these posts. Well done RT. Great photographs too, I was spoilt for choice on picking out the one I liked best. Many thanks all.

26 02 2012
Helga

Beautiful pics, are these Ashanti’s cub? It is written in such a wonderful way as to almost seem like we are in the research area with the cubs – thank you.

27 02 2012
Wendy

These photos are just lovely – I would love to be there and see them with my own eyes…..

11 03 2012
maureen

FANTASTIC! I am totally hooked on the Ngamo Pride. Your post is visually captivating and your narrative is great. I am actually thinking of volunteering with your organization. I love big cats!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 172 other followers

%d bloggers like this: