A night in the life of three lion cubs (and their mother). Part 1 : Waking up in the Mara

Back to Africa for a couple of weeks of blogs. My camp Saruni Wild was in the Lemek Conservancy, one of several Maasai conservancies that adjoin the Maasai Mara National Park. These lions are part of the eponymous Lemek Pride

The rhythm of a lion’s “day” is out of sync with ours. They wake up in the late afternoon, hunt and eat at night, and go back to sleep once the sun rises. These first photos were taken one evening starting around 4.30pm. In Part 2: Bedtime on on a full stomach the photos were taken the next morning from about 6am.

The cubs are 3 or 4 months old, and still nursing at least occasionally:

The mother-cub bond is still extremely close:

Their mother will only have brought them out into the open fairly recently, so our vehicle is unfamiliar and a heady mix of fascinating:

and scary, though there is always one braver the the others:

Our proximity doesn’t stop them chasing each other,

and venturing away from their mother to explore:

A rocky field offers great terrain for ambush :

and wrestling:

The rules of the game also do not preclude pouncing on your mother:

or grabbing her by the neck:

It is all play, but it is also good practice for hunting, as is hiding in the long grass (look at the top left of the photo below)

A stick is the next best thing to a bone, and thus worth fighting over:

During most of this, if you look closely their claws are sheathed, but every now and again they appear, a glimpse of their budding weaponry. And the teeth are growing fast too.

As dusk fell, we left them to it and returned to camp for a G&T.

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