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14. Food for Cubs

Punda Maria gate in northern Kruger near the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique was our lucky place for big cats. The day after watching the leopard, we had the good fortune of encountering a lion right after she brought down a cape buffalo. We wondered where the other members of the pride were until we realized that it was likely a mother with cubs nearby.

In this first video clip you can see the lion with the freshly killed baby buffalo. At the end of this clip, she's getting ready to drag the buffalo into the cover of some nearby trees. Unfortunately, my battery was running out of power and I decided to swap for a fresh one right as the dragging took place. Too bad I don't have that on video to share. It was incredible watching her legs and back strain as she tugged and pulled in order to move the buffalo for about thirty meters into a well-hidden location.

Then, for a while, the lion was hidden and we weren't sure if we'd get any more looks. Just as I was scanning the bushes with binoculars, her face appeared point blank in the center of my view. I was able to quickly switch to video in time to capture this.

It turns out she was heading our way in order to cross the road, for very good reason. Her cubs were patiently waiting on the other side, and, we witnessed them running out to greet her.

And then, we watched as they searched for a place to cross the road...

Once they found a spot to cross, they set out together with purpose to find the meal mom had stored for them. Well, mostly with purpose, with the exception of the straggler who apparently had to take care of a thorn in the foot, or, something like that.

After crossing the road, the cubs wandered a bit, then investigated the kill site and the trail where mom had dragged the buffalo into the bush.

Once mom and cubs disappeared to go feed, we waited for another twenty or thirty minutes, wondering if other lions or hyenas would appear. As far as we could tell, none did, and I imagine they enjoyed a meal together in the safety of the bushes.

What a visit to Punda Maria!