Tag Archives: cubs

Some days are diamonds

Have you ever had one of those days when just about everything goes wrong?  I’m sure you have.  How about one when absolutely everything goes right?  We recently had a diamond day in Kruger National Park.  We visit parks often and this has to have been our best time ever anywhere.  Let me tell you about it.

Lion Pride KNP

We left our campsite at Satara, planning to make our way slowly to Lower Sabie.  We hadn’t driven far when we saw a pride of ten lions in the bush next to the road.

Lion Pride KNP

The left the grassy area and walked along the road in front of us for about two kilometers.

Lion Pride KNP

Apart from seeing so many lions at one time, we were delighted to watch the young cubs playing games with each other as their parents walked purposefully ahead.  There were about six cubs of various ages, three older lionesses and one male lion.  What a sight that was.  Our best ever close up sightings of so many of these beautiful animals.

Male Leopard KNP

Feeling like things couldn’t get much better than this, we continued driving towards Lower Sabie.  It wasn’t long before we came across a number of parked cars and realized that the folks were watching something special.  This time it was a magnificent male leopard walking beside the road.

Male Leopard KNP

I turned our car around so that Rob could take photos and the leopard obliged by walking next to us and then sitting down at the side of the road.

Male Leopard KNP

What a sight he was.  We were absolutely blown away by this incredible animal.

When the leopard eventually disappeared into the bush, we happily continued on our drive.  Our next bonus was another sighting of lions, a male and female.  Once again we were in the perfect position for photos and we made the most of our special time with them.

Lioness KNP Lion  KNP

At the Mafagalamba Dam, close to the Tshokwane picnic area, we spotted a mother cheetah with three cubs.  She left her cubs briefly to drink at the dam.

Cheetah mother  KNP

Whilst there she spotted an impala and immediately gave chase.  We held our breath thinking that we would see a kill, but the impala managed to escape and the cheetah made her way back to her cubs.

Cheetah cubs  KNP

With that, a lioness appeared and saw an opportunity to have a cheetah cub for a meal.  The cheetah hastily departed with her three cubs.  Here was another chance for us to watch a chase!

Lioness KNP

There was a flurry of activity in a bush as the lioness caught up with them.  Unfortunately by then it was too far away for us to see what happened – we can only hope that the cubs escaped safely and that the mother took on the lioness.  We will never know the outcome, but our day was getting better and better!

By this time it was almost sundown and we were making our way back to our campsite, when we came across a smallish bird sitting in the road.  On closer inspection it turned out to be a Harlequin Quail – a lifer for us.

Harlequin Quail  KNP

I was concerned that it would be run over by a passing car, so I opened my window and flapped a towel near it.  The quail flew off into the safety of the bush.  Our day was over and it will be etched into our memories as the most amazing one ever in any game reserve.  We consider ourselves extremely lucky to have been witness to the best that the bush could offer in a single day.

The Big Five : Part 3 – African Lions

I started my Big Five blogs with articles about leopards and buffalo.  Today is the turn of the mighty lion – one of the most impressive animals in Africa.  We’ve been fortunate enough to spend holidays in Botswana’s national parks, as well as Etosha, Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, all of which have magnificent prides of African lions.  One of the most exciting things when camping in the wild, is to lie in bed at night and hear the deep roar of a lion.  They can be heard from up to five kilometers away, but it sounds closer and that booming roar always sends a tingle up my spine.


Lions are sociable animals, living in prides of ten or more lions.  The male is the great protector of his pride and he usually has a number of lionesses in his harem, all related, that take care of the hunting and the provision of food.  The females work in unison once they decide on which animal they are stalking and they plan their attack from all fronts.  Once the animal is downed, the male then comes in to eat first, followed by the females and lastly the cubs.

    Getting stuck in to the kill

You can read all about a lion kill that we came across in the Central Kalahari by clicking here.  It was so exciting to be able to park the car meters away from the feeding lions and spend many hours watching the drama of hierarchy unfold as they all got stuck into their meal.  Lions can eat up to 18 kgs of meat at a time, which is probably why, once sated, they sleep for the next twenty hours or so.  They mainly kill at night and then sleep off their excesses during the heat of the day.  Look at the size of the full belly of this lioness after she had gorged herself on an Oryx – she lay on her back with her legs in the air for hours afterwards.

    Pull your tummy in its disgusting!

Females usually have between two and four cubs that are born after a gestation period of one hundred and ten days.  They mate all year around and once the cubs are born they are protected and fed by all the lionesses in the pride.  They love to romp and play and are very affectionate towards one another, although male lions have been known to kill their own cubs under certain circumstances.

    My favourite cub picture!

Lionesses take up to four years to reach their adult size, whilst male lions mature after six years.  Males develop a beautiful mane around their necks which makes the sexes easily identifiable.  In the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park one can see the red-maned lions which are very impressive.  Even more so when you see them on red sand dunes! They can live up to fifteen years in the wild, although this is not really common as they fight continually with competitors in both the lion and predator arena.

    Red-maned lion in Kgalagadi

Lions are also known as Panthera leo from the family Felidae.