Blackrock Pride

So to continue, on our way to the lunch spot, which only Alison and the driver know as yet, we see a herd of Elephants on the plains to our right. One family is out in the open, grazing, they have a baby with them that is only just about visible in the long grass and another, slightly older but still young takes a long look at us as we stop to watch them. The rest of the herd are all together in the shade of a lone tree. Even though it is still a little misty and cloudy, when the sun does break through the heat is intense.

We continue on and as we ascend a hill, the only one around for 100’s of metres I just know this is our lunch spot, the views over the surrounding plains, the sand river and the hills of Tanzania are amazing. Even though it is warm and sunny at our lunchtime restaurant we can see the rain coming towards us from Tanzania to the south. When we reach the top and stop at a bush Alison points out a large depression in the grass around the tree, he tells us there has been a lion resting here recently and so he checks out the area to make sure there are none still around before we start to eat.

After lunch it was decided we would see what the tracks were like in the blackrock area, to see if we could get close to the Lions. On the way the driver stops the vehicle because Alison has seen something in the distance, a quick look through the binoculars confirms it’s a lion lying in the long grass next to a small rocky outcrop. How he managed to see this from the distance we were from it I don’t know, I guess that’s what makes him an excellent guide. The only problem is, we had just forded a deep water hole, all depressions at the moment are filled with water, even the tyre tracks, some shallow and some like this one deep. Quite a few larger holes had been waterlogged for so long that they had water lilies growing in them.

I thought we were lucky to get through it the first time, but now not only do we have to go back through it to see the lion, but we also then must do it again to get back to where we are now. The guys thought it would be okay so off we went. We found a single male sub-adult all by himself, this is unusual as you would normally find sub-adults as part of a pride or as part of a group of them. We searched the surrounding area to see if there were more, but he was definitely on his own. So back through the water hole.


We found the tracks to be fairly good, not as bad as the Talek area, and when we reached the blackrock females there were already a few other jeeps watching them, it felt like they were waiting for us because as soon as we arrived four females were just getting up and started to walk to the rocks in the distance. All four females were mothers, so we guessed they were going to where they had hidden their cubs.

As they moved towards the rocks, they walked very close to two elephants with a baby. The lions were not at all interested in the elephants, but the elephants didn’t appreciate the lions being so close to their baby, they showed their displeasure by flapping their large ears and making a loud trumping noise, charging at two of the lions and chasing them away, even the baby joined in. What they didn’t at first realize was that the other two lions were coming up behind them. When they did finally see them, they got the same treatment, the lions retreated to the rocks and the elephants went quietly on their way.

We made a detour around the rocks and just by chance we came across the cubs before the females got there, they were hiding, as sensible cubs should when they are by themselves. I just managed to capture the head of one cub before we heard the approaching females calling out to the cubs. As soon as the cubs heard the call, they all came out and ran over the rocks towards the sound. They were so happy and excited to see their mothers.

Altogether there were the four mothers, eight young cubs and two slightly older cubs. After they were all re-united and the cubs had been given lots of attention the mothers got up and started to lead the cubs away. They were not leading them to a kill so they must be taking them to a new den. Lionesses often move their cubs to a new den to keep them safe from predators.

So, we follow them for a while together with all the other photographers as they walk along the road, playing and jumping on each other and their mothers, the cubs are so cute you just can’t help taking lots of photos of them. I’m really going to enjoy following these cubs as they grow, watching all their ups and downs of life. Finally, it was time to leave them and head back to camp, they hadn’t yet settled on a new den so we will have to start looking the next time we are out.

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