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Matthew Murray | A Mother's Comfort

This picture was taken on Phinda Private Game Reserve on the edge of a small watering hole, where during a sighting of a pride of lions on a wildebeest killI, we noticed something very unusual. The whole pride was at the kill, except for the big dominant males. We suddenly noticed this little cub popping out of a nearby scrub! It could not have been much older than a week, as we could see its eyes had just opened. Because it was so young and new, it was exceptionally strange that it was with the whole pride already and around such a fresh kill. Lionesses separate from the pride when they are about to give birth and only introduce their newborn cubs to the rest of the pride after about 3 months in the den.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, the tiny lion cub then decided to take a nap on the paws of a young male!

Lion cub small cub phinda private game reserve

We could only speculate what had caused the tiny cub to be integrated with the pride at such an unlikely moment. Perhaps the mother had brought the cub to the pride, maybe being an unexperienced first time mom? Or maybe the mother had made the kill very close to her den where she had left the cub, and the rest of the pride caught wind of it and joined in for the meal. Some of the guests were lucky enough to experience the cub's next few days, until it eventually disappeared out of sight. Naturally, we all expected the worst until about two days later, my guests and I were on our way to bush dinner. We stopped for a moment to listen to the sounds of the bush at night - which are absolutely breathtaking if you even get the change to experience it. While we were stopped there, we heard a strange sound that neither myself nor my tracker could identify immediately. We of course went to investigate, only to find the tiny little cub very far away from the site where we first saw it! It was making what must have been a distress call that we had never heard before. As sad as it was, we were not allowed to intervene and had to let nature run its course. When we went back to check the area the next afternoon, the little cub had stayed in the same spot the whole time, still calling out for its mother even though it had gotten quite tired by then. As by wonder, it had survived a whole night and day on its own, undetected by other predators. As we were about to leave the sighting, the mother appeared from a nearby thicket, picked up her cub and carried it away! We were all relieved to see mom and cub reunited once again, and could not help but admire the little one's luck and strong will to survive!

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