Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Pride

In which I recount the story of our last few hours on safari at Gomo Gomo.

On our last morning, we had the usual 05:30 start, after which we set off on our final game drive. After the wealth of animal sightings we'ld had in the previous few days, we were a little disappointed to find the bush almost eerily empty - even the omnipresent impala seemed to have moved on. With only about an hour or so remaining before breakfast time, an Afrikaner accent came crackling over the radio - a pride of lions had been spotted. At last!

I was the first on our vehicle to see them: the round ears of a lioness projecting just above the dry grass. Inching forward, we were able to see the whole pride sprawling on the track ahead of us. Although they'ld fed recently (bellys round with all the meat they'ld put away), they were relatively active. One of the younger lionesses, not yet full grown, was still kittenish and playful - we watched her crouch low behind a bush before pouncing on another (fully grown) lioness emerging from the bush, who took the attack in good humour.

Abruptly, the whole pack arose and moved off, apparently at the instigation of the male. We followed them off the track and along a dry riverbed - very sandy. Reaching a shady spot, most of the adults flopped down to sleep and digest. Three little cubs were still active, however, mockfighting and nipping each other's tails. We watched from close by as their mother washed and fed them - absolutely adorable.

Lion cubs on a dry riverbed, Timbavati

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