With anticipation growing daily we were finally shown the new kittens of Tubu Tree. Since the beginning of November, when the Jao Concession lion pride was last seen together, the daughter looked as if she was ready to give birth any day. She disappeared for a while only to be seen in December again – looking thinner and obviously lactating. Then she was seen in the daytime hunting, even hunting out front of Tubu Tree Camp on the floodplain. This got everyone excited and all decided to try and follow to get the answers to all the questions of how many cubs there were, where they are, male or female etc.
One of our questions is now answered as camp guide and guests recently investigated a Hooded Vulture sighting and found the mother feeding on a wildebeest. Having heard an unusual sound, they decided to sit and wait it out to see what would happen. Their patience was rewarded when over an hour later, just before full darkness, four little ones came out to join mother. What a sight – they were able to catch a couple of pictures and spend a little time with them before they went back into hiding.
Tubu Tree Camp is also known for leopards. Of course they were not to be outdone by the lions: our resident queen leopard, Boat Station Female was also seen lactating on the 23rd of November 2010. She also kept her cubs hidden for a while and then sightings started up again and tracks were seen of a little one with her, which just added to the anticipation for cubs.
Finally we had some sightings but with the bush being lush and thick it made it hard to follow. One morning drag marks were spotted going across the airstrip and into the bush. Just a few metres in, there she was with an impala kill and one little cub who was full energy and a little shy of its safari vehicle encounter.
This now leaves us with three young male lions just over a year old and four little lion cubs making a total of seven young lions running around, coupled with two one-and-a-half year old leopards and another young leopard cub. The questions is now how many kittens can Tubu Tree have? Never enough, it seems.
Observers: Justin Stevens, Jacky Collet-Stevens, Brooks Kamanakao
Photographers: Cathy Kays, Brooks Kamanakao