November 19 – Morning Drive
The heat continues. The lion/buffalo activity does not. Let me rephrase – we found the buffalo and we found the Group of Six lions (and the two cubs) – lethargy prevails. We did learn that the mother lion that we photographed two years ago with the three cubs is the same mother of these two cubs. We have not caught on camera this mother with her young ones – for some reason she is spending more time with Ma di Tau and Ma di Tau’s older sub-adult children (the ones feeding on the red lechwe that had been killed by the crocodile). No one could explain why this mother was leaving her two cubs to be minded by the Group of Six where her ties were not particularly strong. Fortunately for the little guys, the young male is especially playful and patient. This morning the cubs came out of hiding.
Without mom to protect them, they had apparently rationalized that the greater risk to their well-being was to be left behind by the Group, rather than potentially raising the ire of one of these powerful lions. We were intrigued by the machinations and of course were hopeful for some good photo-ops, but we also did not want to disrupt the group dynamic, so we left them as the sun rose higher.
We did get to harmonize with Sister Sledge as we got caught up in the action of a typical family greeting – Mother Lion and her sub-adult children (male and female).
We enjoyed coffee at the hippo pool and had a bit of show there. I was particularly psyched to catch these birds flying in formation – just happened to fire off a few shots as they glided by.
November 19 – Afternoon Drive
The Afternoon Game Drive provided more of the same. We did find the Skimmer Male, alone, sound asleep in the shade. This was our first sighting of him on this trip and James 007 explained that his eminency is already being challenged a mere two years later by one of his sons who is about 2 and a half years old, just like the Skimmer Male did with his father and uncle, the famous “Duba Boys”. Today, the Skimmer Male is probably about nine or ten years old. A sleeping lion doesn’t make for the most exciting picture, so I am including a shot of him from 2010, taken about hour before he single-handedly took down a pregnant female buffalo. Despite the fact that he was completely focused on suffocating this 500+ pound animal, it did not escape his notice when I stuck my right leg out of the vehicle to pull down on a branch that was getting in the way of my camera angle. He stopped what he was doing and stared right at me – and then decided to pull the dead buffalo deeper in the thicket. I was severely reprimanded by our guide, and rightly so.