Raising young in the drought

Despite the drought, a number of mammals are successfully raising their young and in these past days we have been privileged to see several examples.

First there are the lion cubs from the Northern pride, which we see quite regularly and are now seven months old and quite accustomed to game drive vehicles, even when left alone by their mother – in fact so accustomed that they recently crawled underneath our vehicle to rest. We had to wait until they moved on, resulting in quite a delay in getting back to camp!

Then there is the young female leopard south of camp we call the Nightjar female. She has produced her first litter and the cubs are now two months old.  We found her lying panting and full in a dry stream bed near a half-eaten impala kill,  and soon she was joined by a tiny cub, peering over her back at us. Then we heard a rustle in the undergrowth above them and a second more adventurous cub emerged and proceeded to navigate down a three metre bank to join the mother. We witnessed the greeting between mother and cub and a lot of licking… We will be following their progress with interest.

Meanwhile the dry heat encouraged an elephant family to take a swim in the dam and we watched as they frolicked in the water, the smallest completely submerged and using their trunks as snorkels. But perhaps the most remarkable sighting was later – a little elephant calf no more than two months old but curious enough to approach our vehicle really close, until the anxious mother elephant decided to follow and we had to beat a hasty retreat. There will certainly be more stories to follow about this little elephant.