"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Kenya Journals, Ch. 24: Growing Up Lion on the Masai Mara

Chapter Twenty-Four
Growing Up Lion on the Masai Mara

A lion is called a 'king of beasts' obviously for a reason. —Jack Hanna

We come across a pride in the early morning that had been sleeping on a mound of rocks and are now drinking from a puddle next to the dirt road.  As we watch, most of the pride moves on, but one little cub continues to drink.

The cub with its back to us in the forefront of the photo is the one that lingered.

A quarter mile or so away, we stop to watch the lions coming our way.   One lioness, an auntie,  pauses and looks back.  In the distance is the cub that lingered at the water.   It's crying, pitiful, mewling cries.   The lioness watches for a while and then walks back towards the cub.

A lone cub on the savannah is in danger from many sources.   Not only will hyenas and baboons kill it, but also male lions unattached to the pride.   And martial eagles are known to go after cubs.

The rest of the pride settles down in the shade of a tree and some bushes as it waits for the little one to catch up.

"Hello, Mama..."

On another morning, a perceived danger comes from a strange direction—the air.

The Marsh pride is relaxing near a large and picturesque log, with a couple safari vehicle passengers watching their interactions.

Suddenly a hot air balloon, launched from a nearby tourist camp, floats overhead.  

The cubs scatter to the protection of the adult lionesses, who pay no attention whatsoever to the colorful aircraft.   They’d seen it before.

As one cub watches the curiosity disappears into the Mara, a male lion appears at a distance.

He stops to mark his territory.

One excited cubs runs to greet him.


Cub watches the lion moving away.

 The pride decides to move to their favorite shady area.   One cub walks with the lion, and appears to be especially fond of him.

At their destination, the lion goes through the territory marking again.

There seem to be two or three males attached to this pride and they will protect the cubs, as do all the females.  But, eventually, the male cubs will be forced to leave and find their own way.   That often means joining up with male siblings or other lone males, and taking over another pride.  Or not.

The cubs we watch today aren’t necessarily out of danger.   Should another male or males fight and take over the pride, the cubs will be killed.   There are no lion stepfathers on the Mara, and it is estimated that only one in four male cubs will survive to adulthood.

 As the lions settle down for their morning naps, the little cub snuggles up to dad.

The lion and a lioness sleep side by side.

Then another lioness joins them, and that's when the trouble starts.

"Walter!   I heard a noise!"   (Note the cub's paw behind the lion's mane.)

All seems well at first.....

And suddenly!   Obviously, I wasn't ready for this and missed the snarling lioness.

The lion, properly chastised, moves to another spot and acts like he's undeterred.


All of which just goes to show that you might be the King of Beasts, the King of the Jungle, the King of the Savannah, but it's tough to be a lion.

"What did I do wrong?"


  1. You should have been a naturalist. Great pictures.

  2. That one little cub apparently wants to "run with the big guys" ... fascinating familial drama of every day life in a pride! What a rush it must have been to be so close to these magnificent creatures. I agree ... great pictures from my personal naturalist. Hugs. Patti and Cap

  3. I don't get it. Did the one lioness NOT want the Lion to interact with HER cub. I guess so. Smiles .. Cap and Patti

    1. I think it was more along the lines of she didn't want him sniffing at her rear end. Hard to tell what lions think, but he was properly chastised. It could also be that she was warning him to stay away from any of her cubs, but I don't think that cub was hers. A day or so later, I witness a lioness snarling at a particular lion, but I don't know if it was the same two.