Lions, lions and more lions
16.05.2017 - 16.05.2017
The Rasta Lions we saw this morning are still under the same tree several hours later, and still not doing anything. But they have moved to the other side of the tree (presumably as the sun moved around), and they do pop their heads up as we pull up alongside them. Briefly.
They look kinda cute and soft when they're asleep, but not so much so when they open their eyes and stare right at me from close quarters like that!
Look at those paws! They could do some serious damage!
The antibiotics I have been taking completely knock me out and I go into a deep sleep while David and Malisa look out for animals. I wake up an hour or so later when it starts to rain and we have to put the roof down.
Some of the delights about the ever-changing weather in Serengeti at this time of year, are the dramatic clouds and the number of beautiful rainbows that appear periodically.
And a strategically-placed Grey Kestrel. I wanted a giraffe or an elephant silhouetted in the foreground, but I guess this kestrel will do.
In the road we can see animals tracks, lion paw prints with one big and one little one. They were made before the recent rain shower by the looks of it, and they went the same way as we are going. Oh goody!
The wet mud on top of compacted baked earth makes for an interesting drive, doing the 'Serengeti Samba' sliding our way along the track!
We swing by the Maasai Kopjes on our way back to base, hoping to see a cat or two. We are not disappointed.
A lioness and her cub sit in amongst the shrubbery. These is the same ones as we saw earlier so they don't count towards my total tally of lions seen on this trip (for the record, we finished at 118 individual lions).
A few minutes later we see several more lions almost hidden by the long grass.
Trust me, those are lions.
We hear thunder in the distance and while I am busy looking all around me for possible lightning, the lions in the long grass have made their way down to the track along from us.
There are eight cubs and two adults.
We drive nearer to take a closer look at the action. We are not alone, but I can cope with just one other vehicle.
If you can't find a pal, play with some elephant dung!
The Maasai Pride often come down to the smooth track at this time of day, especially after a rain shower, in order to avoid the damp grass.
The cubs head off into the undergrowth, with the adults in hot pursuit, trying to keep an eye of the mischievous youngsters.
The cubs have found an interesting tree to explore and where they can test out their climbing skills.
They may only be young, but I still wouldn't like to mess with those claws!
And don't even think about getting on the wrong side of their mum... even the babies back off when confronted!
Just a gentle tap with that giant paw and the cub is on the floor.
"Hey bro, I found a stick!"
“My stick is bigger than yours!”
Only one small issue there Buster, it is still attached!
It's getting crowded around the base of the tree, everyone wants to play in the same place at the same time.
Mum shows the kiddies how it is done.
Is she going to jump?
It seems her courage fails her and she tries to (awkwardly) turn around on the small branch.
One of the braver cubs tries it for himself.
Like his mum before him, he too considers the option of jumping down.
He is not sure about this...
"Maybe I should try and walk down?"
“I wonder what happens if I try and go this way.”
“Or maybe I can jump down on this side?”
“It's a long way down.”
“Yikes, this is not as easy as it looks.”
“Aargh, I think I am stuck. I'm scared! It looked so easy when mum did it.”
“Phew! Nearly there.”
“That's not the greeting I was expecting, I was kinda hoping for admiration for my bravery. You're only jealous!”
“Ow! That's my paw!"
“I'm out of here!”
A couple more cubs decide to give it a go, some with more 'encouragement' than others.
Just like they were this morning, the pride is spread out over several rocks and we see lions in almost every direction we look, such as this girl on top of a rock...
… and these lions frolicking in the long grass.
They are heading off to join the little group over by the tree root.
The Maasai Pride consists of eleven cubs to five mothers, and we see all of them here this evening at various locations. It is not a question of looking for them, it's a question of deciding where to look: on the tree, the rocks, the root, the road...?
Wanting to keep an eye on her offspring, mum joins them on the road. The cubs think she has come to play.
“Mum! Don't go! Play with me...”
“Will. You. Leave. Me. Alone!”
We have stayed far too long with the lion cubs and I have taken far too many photos of them, so now we have to rush to get back to the lodge before dark. As usual.
[Post note: I took 1600 photos of those cubs, of which I selected 300 to be edited as 'keepers'. It was extremely hard narrowing it down to 'just a few' to include here in the blog, so I make no apologies for the overload of cuteness photos.]
Alternatively, if you still haven't had enough of these adorable babies, check out my Flickr album.
The light is amazing this evening, with more rainbows, strangely localised rain showers, impressively moody clouds and a glorious sunset. I try my best to photograph it all from a fast moving car on a bumpy gravel track.
Spot the lion on top of the rock!
Back at the tent, as I am enjoying a shower under the stars (or rather the menacing clouds), the sky is lit up by nature's own fireworks. The perfect finish to a perfect day: thunder and lightning! Looking up at the flashes in the sky as the warm water washes off the dust from the mighty Serengeti after a wonderful day with magnificent animal encounters, I feel overcome with a multitude of emotions: happiness, gratitude, appreciation and it makes me feel incredibly small and insignificant. What a wonderful world we live in ♥
All that is left to say about today is THANK YOU to Calabash Adventures for making this all possible.