On the weekend, we decided to take a drive out far west on the reserve, as we had been informed that there was an elephant carcass in the area. On arriving to the carcass, it was clear to see that the elephant had died of natural causes, perhaps a foot injury. What was most surprising was that there was no evidence of any predator activity around the carcass. That evening as the wind picked up, we thought to ourselves that surly the smell of the rotting meat should meet the nose of any predator roaming the area, after all the carcass was already 3 days old.
At first light we headed straight back to the carcass, of which the scent we could now pick up with the human nose from a kilometer away. On arrival we where excited to see two cream coloured heads poking out of the mint green landscape of wild sage. Our predictions where right, and that was not all, as we slowly approached the carcass we found 4 cubs feeding away furiously.
The two lionesses, still uncertain of who to trust, quickly called over the cubs to their protective side. We sat for a while, and gave the pride enough space which allowed the lionesses to once again relaxed their postures and give their cubs the go ahead to get back to their feeding frenzy.
After some time, the mothers/sisters, of which one has 3 cubs and the other 1 slightly younger cub, signaled to their cubs to follow and they made their way down to the Motloutse River for a drink. On first sight of the water the 4 cubs sprinted across the dry river bed to the small pool of water, the mothers followed nervously behind, always checking their surroundings for possible threats. After they had all had a drink, the pride moved quickly back into the thickets of the riverine vegetation where they retreated for the day.
Another special day of sightings at Mashatu!
Text and images by: Ruth Nussbaum