A sight to remember
Shawn Catterall is our General Manager at Tshukudu Lodge. Not only does she take incredible images but has some wonderful stories to tell. Read on and be transported to the bushveld.
On our way back to the lodge after a pretty successful afternoon drive, a station called in a male lion walking on the road up ahead. It was one of a coalition of two very handsome boys we refer to as the “Spooner Boys“. We pulled in to the sighting but did not have him for long before he went off into the thicket. I told my guests that I hoped he and his brother would be on our concession within a few days. A visit from them was overdue as they normally pass through quite often.
Back from the game drive the following morning, while having breakfast I heard a lion vocalizing in the distance. Excitedly I got up and scanned the plains, sure enough, it was him (one of the "Spooner Boys") walking directly towards the lodge. As we watched him, it was clear he was walking towards something, so I scanned closer to home once more, and there she was...a massive lioness. As I looked closer, something was moving about besides her, and then I saw them…cubs! She was laying there with four cubs! I could hardly believe my eyes, they had not been seen before! And so, leaving our breakfast behind, we went to see them.
By the time we had got down onto the plains, she had moved the cubs a little further out. She was lying in the open while the cubs were under a bush on a very well-hidden wildebeest kill. After some time, the cubs jogged off towards a nearby kopjie, while mom stayed sprawled out near the kill, and it was time for us to head back to the lodge. I hoped she would stick around so we could see them again.
That afternoon we went to relocate them. I drove back to where she had hidden the kill, and found her still lying close by, but with no cubs. We stayed with her for a while before the handsome male appeared and went straight to the kill and pulled it out into the open and started to feed. Our guests were in awe of his strength as he walked so effortlessly carrying this huge meal as if it were a rag.
After a while the lioness joined him, there was a lot of sweet talk and affection displayed between the two before she finally lay down in front of him. He then went for a drink after having his meal.
It wasn’t long after that that something caught her attention as she looked towards the kopjie. Her cubs were calling her, and she gently called back to them. After a while, we decided to drive to the kopjie to try and get visual of them. It took some time before we found the four little bundles of cuteness curiously staring down at us. At one point I thought they were going to come down off the kopjie and head back to mom but as soon as they got close to the bottom, they decided it was best to stay put until mom came for them.
Our guests sat in silence absorbing what they were seeing as I sat with a massive grin on my face feeling more than privileged to have had this beautiful lioness show us, and share with us her most precious little cubs. A sighting I will never forget…