Favourites will always be favourites. This is especially true when you have watched wildlife survive the elements and battle against the odds since a young age.
I have been fortunate to witness the Othawa male grow up since he was a young, subadult, male lion.
I remember how quickly he developed his mane, from sporting just a few scraggly hairs to developing a full head of hair. One of his greatest challenges was trying to avoid the two Matimba males lions when they entered the area. Being too young to fight and defend himself at that age, his only option was to leave the Othawa pride and start his adult life afresh. One of my last sightings of him leaving was hearing him roar for the first time. It was as if he was saying he is on his way, but he will be back.
There was a period of a number of months where I had no sightings of the Othawa male. He moved deep into neighbouring properties where I could not traverse. All I heard was that after some time he managed to work his charm and join the Mhangene pride as the pride male.
I have had a few encounters with the Mhangene pride before the male joined. They also went through a rough patch where they lost or abandoned a great deal of their youngsters. One thing that I remember since my first encounter with the pride is how large the lionesses are. These ladies were hunting buffalo on their own and I knew that only good things could come from this pride.
After a while it was confirmed that the Othawa male had secured his future and joined up with the formidable Mhangene pride. This combo was destined to be. After tucking into multiple buffalo kills, courtesy of the ladies, the male beefed up and took on his mighty adult stature. When I eventually caught glimpse of this golden boy again, I could not believe his transformation. He looked like a real lion. One straight out of the story books.
Continuing with his successful takeover of the pride, he has subsequently sired a litter of cubs. One of the cubs is doing really well and growing up quickly. I am not entirely sure what happened to the siblings.
It has been an interesting and exciting journey for the Othawa male thus far. I hope to get to spend more time with him as he enters the prime phase of his life and share his journey with all of you.