Fortunately it is quite common to see lions in Botswana, and Splash Camp is no exception. This time we saw lions on almost every drive. In 2019, on the other hand, we only saw the brothers Puffy and Big Man, but a number of times. There were females with cubs hidden somewhere in the swampy area but we had no luck seeing them.
Tom tells us that Puffy and Big Man were chased away by a group of five males; they have been designated the “Bad Boys” because they killed an adult female upon arrival, a very strange event since the female is the male lion’s means of preserving his genes! We saw all five but not all together.
There are now three prides in the Kwando concession. The five males will control all three prides. The first we encountered was the “no name” pride which consists today of two females and 7 sub-adult males. Here are a few views – all nine were present one early evening.
We later encountered two of the Bad Boys searching for the “One Eyed Pride” of two females and three cubs. This group was again hidden in the swampy area somewhere, and it was getting too dark for us to follow the one male.
Here is a great shot taken by Karen of one of the Bad Boys. The lighting in the late afternoon was perfect.
And an attempt by me to texturize another of Karen’s pictures.
One morning we encountered an interesting scene. Three of the Bad Boys were lurking in the grass in different locations, all intent watching four females from the “Splash Pride“. Tom explained that one or more of the females were probably ready to mate, and each of the boys wanted to be the preferred suitor. At one point the vehicle came between one of the males and the female group, and the male leaped up and ran towards the female. No line of sight was to be lost!
On another morning we heard from another vehicle that they were watching a mating scene. As we arrived the female was walking away with the avid male in tow. After a few minutes she laid in the grass, as did he. At one point she stirred and coughed, and he leaped up and attempted to mount her – he learned quickly that she was not in the mood!
And to finish, a brief lesson on lion mating. When the female is ready, she will be serviced every 10 minutes for the first day, then every 20-30 minutes for the next two days. The mating continues for up to 5-7 days. Needless to say, she mates with two or three different males during this process – so all think they are the father!
It is quite well known that when new males take over a pride, any cubs there will be killed because they want the young ones to be theirs. A smart female with cubs can hide the cubs, mate, then expose the cubs 2-3 weeks later and all is fine!