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Lion Cubs and Cheetah Sightings

Jackie Barbour reports from the Southern Serengeti
Aug 06 2014

Rob Barbour’s wife Jackie and their children are in the Southern Serengeti at the moment. Jackie reports from Ndutu:

This morning my daugter, Sarah and I went out on an early-morning game drive. We took our breakfast boxes and headed for the marsh to see what would come down to drink. Thankfully we have been given the use of a safari vehicle from Ndutu Lodge and we are very grateful for the opportunity to go out and spot some game.

The sun was just rising when we set off and when we arrived at the marsh all was very still and quiet. Tucked away in the shrubs we could see the flick of a tiny ear, and then another one. Two sets of two lion cubs were left in the shrubs to wait for the return of their mums. We stopped the car, getting used to the presence of one another. The cubs yawned and stretched and played for a bit.

Two cheetahs made their way to the water to drink briefly before continuing on their way.

The cubs continued to play as they enjoyed the first warm rays of the sun. In the distance we could see two lionesses approaching. They stopped briefly at the water’s edge to have a drink before making their way to the shrubs where they knew the cubs were hidden. The cubs lifted their heads and stopped their play when they heard the mums calling. The reunion of the two sets of cubs with their mums was quite affectionate. The mums had full bellies and the remnants of blood in the fur around their faces. They flopped down contentedly and the cubs jostled for position to have their fill of milk.

We then got word that the two cheetahs had made a kill close by. Sure enough, no more than 2 km away the two cheetahs we’d seen at the marsh earlier had managed to bring down what looked like an adult reedbuck.

The cheetahs were still panting hard from the effort of their chase as other vehicles moved in. They settled down to eat and soon their faces were red with blood; we could hear them chewing and crunching their way through the carcass. Every so often one of them would sit up to look and listen intently to the surroundings…

The other cars left after a little while but Sarah and I stayed to watch the cheetahs eat their fill and have a rest— their tummies full and expanded. We tucked into our own well-stocked breakfast boxes, sitting on the roof of the car, watching the cheetahs enjoy their kill with no other car in sight.

After our breakfast, Sarah and I decided to have one more visit with the lionesses and the cubs before returning to Ndutu Lodge. The lionesses had moved to higher ground with their cubs. After the morning’s traffic they seemed to be revelling in the peace and quiet in the shade of a big acacia tree. Sarah and I left them to it and returned to the lodge. What a wonderful morning!