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Teaching the cubs to hunt!

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It’s five in the morning, and there’s a knock at the door.  A cup of hot tea and cookies entices you to drag yourself out of bed and ready for the morning drive. Half an hour later, loaded up in the safari truck, we are moving out ready to track our morning prey.  We move out slowly, and look for paw prints.  We see a few prints and our tracker notes that they are fresh and darts off into the bush. We continue slowly down the road, and then we hear it.

The radio crackles, and we hear our tracker alerting our driver to a family of lions stalking a water buffalo. We move over into position and watch as two lionesses and five cubs take down a large water buffalo. It is a painstaking process for the lionesses as the water buffalo struggles to get away, kicking and bucking its head.  The cubs are also getting in on the action. Finally the water buffalo succumbs to the lionesses attack. The cubs race in to feast on the food they have so proudly caught. We notice that one little cub has an open wound on its stomach. The ranger believes it is most likely from the buffalo’s horn, and the next two days will decide the cub’s fate. We watch mesmerized as the cubs dig in, oblivious to us watching every detail.

We move out and return in the evening. The cubs bellies are so stuffed we feared they may burst open. They lay on their back, swollen bellies directed to the sun, without a doubt – an African siesta. The lionesses are now feeding; like most mothers, they let their young eat first. The water buffalo is far from being finished, and we will be able to see feasting taking place for another few days at least. We choose to leave the lionesses for the evening. 

Heading out the following day, we trek past the lions again, and this time we note the convergence of the males of the pride. In the animal kingdom, the moment the male arrives, the females and cubs retreat to let the males eat. The hyena’s, with their shrieking laugh, and black spots, have also made their appearance and while they keep their distance from the male lion, they are still getting to graze on two water buffalo legs, their eyes never once missing the movement of the pride in their midst. Yet, my interest is caught by the vultures which have arrived and are sitting patiently in the trees – their time will come shortly to pick on the remnants – they are, after all, the clean-up crew of the wild. 

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