Introducing the Othawa pride cubs (Images and article by guide, Marlon du Toit)
After months of huge anticipation and many attempts at getting a glimpse at these young cubs, the day finally arrived, and boy did I soak in all the goodness! To see eight little bundles of lion fluff bounding towards your vehicle across the white beach-like sand of the aptly named Sand River is an absolute dream come true. These lion cubs remained well hidden within the thickets along the banks of the river for many weeks, a useful method of protecting them, especially in the absence of their mothers. We would get a glimpse of a cub every now and then, but to see all of them right there in the open was incredible. These lionesses are over five years old and are yet to raise a litter successfully. Male lion coalitions have been too unsettling in the past, killing previous litters and preventing the lionesses from entering oestrus for longer periods than usual. The resident males, known as the Selati Coalition, are now well established and thanks to that the Othawa Pride has grown to eleven in total. The cubs now need protection from the rival males, known as the Majingilane Coalition. Their survival depends on the Selati Coalition’s strength and the ingenuity of their experienced mothers. As it stands they rarely venture far east into their territory for fear of an encounter with the Majingilane Coalition. Male lions are well known for ending the lives of young cubs fathered by other males, and this would be disastrous. Let’s trust that these cubs will all make it safely to adulthood.