Athena’s cubs make a splash

28 03 2011

Amongst the golden dew drops in the shimmering grass we were blessed with a stunning visual this morning (27th march) of Athena and her 3 cubs heading to water hole two.

The rising sun cast beautiful orbs around the fluffy little shumbas, before they gallivanted off after mum into the reeds. Not before long one cub began to climb what appears to have become their favourite tree. Now reaching new heights the other two cubs fancied their own go, unfortunately for one this meant falling a good meter out of the tree into a puddle below with a rather comical splash. But not disheartened the little one clambered straight back up to their perch; dripping wet amongst the branches.

While the rest of the pride slept in Kruger we went to catch up on the elusive Kenge. We approached her den in the Serengeti West area with great caution and were awarded with a visual of mum with her now not-so-tiny cubs. Covered in beautiful black spots, the cubs milled around mum and the den quite contently whilst we recorded our data before leaving them in peace.

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Can cubs climb trees?

20 03 2011

We saw Nala and Kwali kick into action again today (17th March) during our mid morning research session. It was Ashanti who first spotted the herd of zebra, which quickly caught the attention of Nala, Narnia, Phyre and Kwali. Immediately Nala began to approach directly along the road, with Kwali in tow. The wind was in their favour, and the zebra continued to graze unaware of the imminent danger! Nala began to flank right while Kwali continued with a direct approach. Unfortunately it seems the midday heat got the best of Kwali as her stalking soon became just walking, and then standing, and then panting…

Nala was not ready to give up though, and her persistence very nearly paid off! We lost visual of her in the tall grass but managed to keep watch on the zebra herd. Suddenly one zebra drew its full attention to the grass, the others too were then anxious, but Nala was nowhere to be seen. The tension grew and grew and our telemetry signal indicated Nala was certainly close, then BAM!! The zebras shot off kicking gold dust into the air forming a mirage of black and white. Nala leapt out the grass and sprinted to within 3m of the herd but as quickly as she started she stopped. She slammed on the breaks and skidded along the road. But she was so close!

We suspect that Nala may have realized she was in this hunt alone, and although she has proved to be one of our best hunters, two lions are better than one. Running at full speed, covering 20m per sec is a serious consumption of energy, therefore not in Nala’s best interest unless she has a real chance.

By the afternoon we sauntered past water hole two and suddenly picked up full signal for Athena. One of our research team spotted movement in the background and binoculars were whipped out. Before having to strain our eyes one of Athena’s golden cubs began to gingerly climb the low hanging tree by the water hole to get a good look at us. Still looking in great condition and obviously loving exploring Ngamo with mum and the family we left the little cub for the day and headed back to camp.

 

 

 








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