A cool, yet cloudy summer morning set the tone for an incredibly playful scene. Not far from camp the roads were littered with the tracks of lions on the move.
Not wasting any time I set out in the direction of the tracks. The flawless footprints led me past a waterhole and towards a silver cluster leaf thicket. I circled around the thicket towards a grassy clearing behind. I had a hunch that the tracks may end up in that area.
As I turned the corner and the tree line came to an end, some enthusiastic faces greeted me.
The Othawa lion pride has managed to make two successful wildebeest kills within the last week. With the first meal the cubs and the females managed to feast exclusively on the carcass. A few days later they managed to join the larger Tumbela male lion on another wildebeest kill.
After a few days of lethargy and bloated bellies, the cubs could simply not resist playing around and working off their new found energy.
Within the group of six there is a majority of female cubs. As I entered the sighting I watched an array of shenanigans unfold in the open grass. It seemed as if the order of the day was to give the little male cub a hard time. The girls teamed up and ran circles around the boy. They would jump on him, wrestle him and use him as their hunting practice target. This lasted a short while before he decided he had had enough of their drama.
Cubs often find their own source of entertainment while the adults get some rest. A few of the youngsters found a log that provided entertainment. Others carried around some sticks and another ran off with a clump of grass.
The larger Tumbela male has come a long way and he is finally starting to fill out and take on the appearance of a large male lion. His muscle tone is increasing rapidly and his mane has taken on an orange hue with a black undertone.
The smaller Tumbela male is still keeping strong and moving along with the pride. His mane is slowly, but surely starting to grow. He has a far lighter colouration than the larger male, but is equally as handsome if not a little more.
The cubs certainly have taken a liking to the larger male. He reveals having a soft spot for the little ones and will tolerate them using him as a bouncing castle or begging for cuddles. They too have learned not to push the boundaries and let the big boy sleep when sleep is needed.