NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The Athi cubs

Encounter with six cubs in the thick bushes between the Hippo pools and the acacia bridge

In Summary

• The cubs bring to mind the old English saying 'as playful as a kitten'

Cubs on a dead tree
Cubs on a dead tree
Image: GARETH JONES

A few weeks ago, we arrived in the Athi basin early in the morning. We received information that three lionesses with six cubs were in the thick bushes between the Hippo pools and the acacia bridge.

We had a glimpse of a cub as we arrived and saw the lionesses retreating into deep shade as the heat increased. So we drove away and enjoyed other sightings until late afternoon, when it began to rain. The cubs seemed to be really enjoying the wet conditions, as they played games like "catch me if you can", "jump the puddle", and "catch the tail".

It was delightful to just sit and watch them as they played in long grass. Then as they decided to play “king of the castle” on a large, dead tree log, they seemed to be having fun just staying on top without falling off.

When watching the cubs play, it is easy to reflect on the old English saying “as playful as a kitten” being applicable to lion cubs as well. The joyful mood of the cubs seemed to lift the sombre mood of the other lionesses, much like young human children often lift our spirits at times.

As it began to get darker, we watched them as they jumped off the dead tree and walked off towards the lionesses and into the thick cover of shrubs and trees.

Last week, we heard that one of the lionesses had recently given birth to four tiny cubs. A number of people sighted the lion pride in the last week now with three lionesses and 10 cubs and male lions nearby.

We hope and pray that the Athi cubs have a high survival rate to ensure a future stable pride in the Athi basin.