Before our morning safari I had told my guests that we would look for our pride of seven lions – one male, three females, and three cubs around five or six months old. However, I mentioned to them that we may not see the whole pride as two of the females had left the pride to give birth to their own young ones. Nevertheless, they were excited.

Before we got to the area where the lions were, we saw two spotted hyenas cross the road in front of us. Even though it was quick, it was an awesome sighting. This is quite a rare occasion as hyenas in our area are extremely shy.

As we carried on with our safari and got to the area where the lions were last seen, we stopped at a dam, only to find a male hippopotamus outside of the water. This is something that you do not see very often. Hippos are mostly seen lazing about in the water due to their extreme sensitivity to the sun. Interestingly, Hippos do almost everything in the water, except breathe and eat. Therefore, the only time to really see them outside of the water would be when it is dark. So this was definitely a surprise.

In addition to this, there was a female Hippo inside the water with her young calf. This male was not from around this area so she was expressing warning displays to him to ward him off from her baby. Warning displays of Hippos are very impressive. They open their mouths as wide as they can in order to show their rather large teeth to intimidate anything that seems to be a threat to them.

While watching this amazing scene, I see movement on the other side of the dam. I say to my tracker, “It’s a female lion”. So we drive to the other side and wait for her to come out. To our complete amazement, there she was – with a tiny cub in her mouth, possibly only one or two weeks old. My guests and I could not believe our eyes. We were the first ever to see the newborn lion cubs.

And what a sighting it was! She brought the cub into the road and walked right by us. She put the cub down, looked at us, and took it back into the protection of her powerful yet gentle jaws. It was as if she was displaying him to us, as if to say “yes, this is my baby, isn’t he just beautiful?” and yes he was.

This was just another day in the wild, showing that anything is possible at any time.

Kim Pretorius – River Lodge

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