A twitching of the ear or a flick of a tail, may be all you see in the distance but a closer inspection reveals family life. Where Mothers, Aunts and siblings unite to form strong family bonds. This is where lion cubs learn valuable life lessons.
For little cubs entering this brave new world, it is both intriguing and frightening. The youngsters having varying personalities , some timid and cautious, whilst others are brash and bold, but there is one thing that they all share and that is the ability to have fun.
Like all youngsters it is the simplest of items that can keep them the most enthralled. Tails providing a simply irresistible urge to grab, pull and nibble at, as Mum or Dad flicks away the flies. From an early age young cubs have the instinct to stalk and pounce. An unsuspecting pride member falls victim to a mischievous cub as he pounces out from the undergrowth latching on to his target, the lioness flicks the little cub away, but he will bounce back and repeat the new found game again and again. Other youngsters will join in, not wanting to miss out on all the fun. These early games teach paw – eye co-ordination.
The bond between cubs and their mothers is strong. There is a tenderness in the way she nurtures her young. A soft caress and nuzzling provides affection and love. Her gentle tone in which she communicates to her young along with licking, hugging and head rubbing, warm and reassuring. This bond will last a lifetime and you can’t help but feel so privileged to observe this in the wild.
Like all youngsters, there are times when a stern word needs to be said. Sometimes patience is stretched and mischievous cubs receive a cuff across the body to keep them in order. Cubs certainly learn the do’s and don’ts very quickly. Like all youngsters that are told off, there can be some back chat and some tantrums.
Getting to know Dad is an exciting experience. Admired for his regal presence, yet he shows a beautiful tenderness to the little ones.
It takes courage to become who you are.
Watching the pride members feast as dinner has been dished up and knowing when it is time to take your seat at the dinner table. Mother ensures that youngsters get their time to eat once older members have satisfied their hunger.
Impromptu pouncing, stalking of branches and bugs, hide and seek, tumbling, exploring and ambushing moving targets, it’s all part of growing up. The possibilities are endless when it comes to inquisitive, curious little cubs.
Once the cubs have exhausted all their energy, on scampering about and suitably disturbing all the pride members with their cheeky antics, with bellies full the transition from pouncing to using the nearest relative as a comfy mattress to flop onto, is a moment that I always cherish.
These early lessons in life will help shape their future, to be an integral part of the pride.