Written by Jian Du Plooy
Watching four lion cubs grow in strength and confidence over the last year has been quite entertaining for us at Leopard Mountain, as well as a nerve-racking experience! And while the mother lioness has been exceptionally successful in raising these four youngsters well past a year now, their journey has been a rocky one.
Posing for a picture-perfect ‘Pride Rock’ moment, mum and cubs were lazing about on a rocky outcrop on one morning game drive. While the lioness and two cubs lay just out of sight behind the ridge, two of the cubs were confidently standing their ground – at only five months of age – while watching an impala ram bewilderingly make his way straight towards the lions.
Confused by our appearance to his left and the overwhelming smell of lion in the area, he looked quite dazed as he continued in the direction of the lions – obviously the wind was not in his favour.
Once right upon the sleeping lions, complete shock saved the impala’s life as the unbeknownst lions were frightened right out of their mid-morning catnap. After the shock wore off and the impala was well out of hunting distance, the cats returned to their slumber.
On another occasion – around the same age – the cubs’ bravery was tested by a massive bull elephant. A face-off between four young lion cubs and a 3-tonne elephant bull…
The cubs confidently stood their ground until the sheer size was suddenly realised as the elephant drew near and the cubs eventually backed down.
Over six months down the line and the cubs are really showing their strength and showing off just how much they’ve learned – not quite perfected – from mum. In an awkward attempt to stalk and kill a warthog the lioness chased the warthog straight towards a game viewer, a bad miscalculation by the warthog who made a very wrong turn straight into four hungry young lions.
They successfully managed to restrain and kill the young warthog and after a quick meal, it unfortunately was stolen by two of their uncles.
One occasion really showed their youth and inexperience. While the lioness had taken down a large female wildebeest, the cubs were playfully trying to take down the wildebeest’s assumed and unfortunate calf.
After a long period of rather playing with the calf, it was eventually put to rest when hunger became priority to the cubs.