The sad news this week was that there are now only eight pups left. One was killed by a lioness off of the property. Their far ranging habits mean dogs often come into contact with other predators and sometimes domestic animals. This of course can cause lots of problems for their population including diseases and being killed because of competition. Thankfully, all other eight pups looked fit and healthy when I saw them running and splashing around in a dam.
Later in a very quiet week we found a jackal trotting by the side of the road. It went and lay down and out from the rocks popped a ball of fluff. Then three more popped out. Pups! The little fox-look-alikes were climbing over some rocks that looked to be a new den site. This was my little secret, no-one else knew about this little family and it gave us all geat pleasure watching the pups pop their heads up in curiosity before heading back into their home. I visited the den site a couple of times and it always gave me great joy to see the cheeky little faces staring back at me from the rock pile.
Lions, everyone wants to see them, but this week they really played hard to get. There had been no sightings of them for five days, only a few tracks gave us an indication that they were around. I tried my luck and drove to the most Eastern point of the reserve hoping to catch a glimpse of one. I scanned the Berg from five hundred metres away. A tawny coloured blotch caught my eye, I grabbed the binoculars and sure enough there was a lioness sunning herself on the rocks in the dying evening sun. She got up and disappeared from sight. The guests, desperate for lions, were happy, some more than others because of the distance. “Don’t worry we will see them closer in Kenya next year” one guests consoled its travel partner. I wasn’t having that, so after night had fallen and we got a call that the lioness was lying exactly where we had stopped for sundowners, I rushed back to the scene. As we arrived two lionesses and six cubs greeted us. Three were a few months old and the other three were no more than a few weeks! The mum called for them to follow as she crossed the road and giving a little squeak that cubs do, they obliged, trotting along after her. As always there is normally a courageous and curious individual and there was nothing different amongst these cubs. One of the smaller cubs stopped in front of us, we towered over the little guy, but with a squeak he ran towards the car in a playful mood and veered off at the last second jumping onto his siblings as he did so. Mum rolled her eyes and waited patiently. It was the closest I had ever been to such small wild lion cubs and it was certainly a moment to treasure for ever. Everyone was thrilled as the lion family disappeared deeper into the bushes and into the night, we returner to camp in huge excitement.