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Ulusaba

Lion Cubs & Mating Lions!!!

Hi Ulusaba Bloggers;

I hope you all had a wonderful & peaceful Easter weekend...

Here in the lush African bush the home of the most wonderful wildlife creatures, Easter & the last 2 weeks has been absolutely wonderful.

The scoop on the lions is fascinating...

For the past 2 weeks we have been so blessed with the long awaited appearance of the oldest female in the Xhimungwe pride's new born cubs...yes 2 new little energetic fluffy bundles of joy!

At first any female lion or leopard would hide their cubs in a very secluded area after birth to protect them from any dangerous creatures that might kill them such as other non pride lions or nomadic male lions, leopards & even hyenas. These creatures will kill the cubs to prevent the continuation of the lion species or due to territorial competition amongst all of them. Yip life in Africa is tough, the survival of the fittest in all aspects. For about the first 2 weeks the cubs are blind & helpless, their mother's help, care & protection is of vital importance, she will pick them up with her mouth on the back of their necks & they will hang motionless waiting to be placed somewhere else.

They will live on mummy's milk until they are about 4 weeks old, before they are introduced to meat, sometimes even quicker, from there they will live on both milk & meat. From the birth area the mother will move the cubs frequently to other hiding places to avoid predation on them. During this time we come into the picture where we get the chance to try & track them & hopefully find them...which has happen lately. The cubs are now about 8 weeks old, still smaller than a small house cat & as cute as ever, they have become more & more relaxed towards the game drive vehicles.

About a week ago the mother made 2 kills, a waterbuck & bushbuck kill at the same spot, which provides ample food for her & the cubbies. The viewing of the cubs during this times has been phenomenal, almost every guest at Ulusaba saw them playing around with their food just like little human kids & they have been chasing each other all over the show with play stalking, rolling, tackling, leaping & chewing twigs not even to mention using mommy as an obstacle jungle gym. Playing with mommy's black tail tuff is of course the most frequented attacking object.

We are not 100% sure as yet but we think the 1 cub is a girl & the other a boy. If they sit still for longer we might get a better idea...we will keep you in the loop! These little cute critters with their cute cubbie noises & calls will one day be the fierce predators roaming the African Bush!

Will keep you updated on their life here in Africa!

Between all the lion cub sightings we were also witnessing the very rare sightings of one of the younger female lions of the Xhimungwe pride mating with one of the Mapogo male lions. This is the first time thefemale is mating which is also for us great news because this means that if all goes well she will conceive & give birth to her cubbies added to the size of the Xhimungwe pride.

The fact that a Mapogo male is mating with her will also secure the survival of the cubs due to the fact that the Mapogo's are holding the Monopoly on lion territory in most of the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve which Ulusaba forms part of. By having these fierce competitive males around, they will prevent any intruding male lions to enter the area which may pose a threat to the survival of the existing new cubs & the cubs to follow. The younger lioness have mated with 2 of the Mapogos so far to insure she conceives. We will know soon if they have been successful. Holding thumbs!!!

Apart from the lions we have seen so many wonderful sightings of all kinds, from the wild dogs hunting impala to a stand off between the other 3 Xhimungwe lionesses & the male cheetah to Makwela female leopard mating with the Twegane male, loads of cute little buffalo calves with their huge ears to elephant babies kicking up dust & play wrestling with each other & new born giraffe babies...

One on occasion following Metsi female leopard which is the daughter of Mabiri & grand daughter of Makwela through some tough terrain on the Southern outskirts of our property she took us to an open plain eventually... she scanned the area before continuing to walk west when suddenly out of nowhere a white rhino cow & her one year old calf came trotting towards us & the leopard...now to see 2 high profile creatures in 1 sighting is not something you see very often especially on such close range but as the rhino mother walked closer to us but still protecting her calf Metsi decided to walk up close to the vehicle as if she seeked protection from us, at this stage we decided to stay put as the engine noise could have stressed the mother rhino out & she might just decide to come too close to the vehicle for comfort.

Metsi paused in her tracks, staring at the vehicle & then at the rhinos, pondering what to do, at this point my guests had a great opportunity to take a few pictures of Metsi in the foreground & the rhino in the back ground, an opportunity not to be missed. Metsi gained enough courage to keep on walking past the rhinos unharmed & the rhino felt very chuffed with themselves by actually "winning" this stand off...they walked proudly further east into the thickets & Metsi went west straight into the sunset...

If this is not enough...she walked further as we followed her & about 400m from where we left the rhinos she brought us to a herd of elephants, she decided to take the safe option by leaping into a tall Jackal berry tree for comfort...as she was settling in on one of the branches of the tree the elephants came closer to the tree but not worried or disturbed by her presence they continued to feed.

While all this was happening the sun finally set & a hyena came past us just to say, hi I am here too...the hyena gave Metsi one stare & moved off... we were amazed what one sighting could offer...leopard, rhinos, elephants, hyena & a spectacular African Sunset!

We hope that you enjoyed the experiences & we will keep you in the loop of the lives of the wonderful African creatures.

Until then...all the best!

Duard