Brian (the lion)* is the coolest cat on the plains. He’s one of the mature males of the Bilashaka pride and under the thumb/paws of his cubs. His laid back 'love and peace' attitude seems a bit out of place for a large male but perhaps due to his two most ferocious adult females, the mothers to his offspring, the youngsters love having him around.
Following Brian and his large group of boisterous over-grown cubs have given us the most exciting and entertaining nights of our trip so far. Brian’s cubs are around 18 months to two years old and have the stature of nearly full-grown lions but none of the prowess! Their mothers seem to despair and abandon them at dark, opting to catch their own food and leave their kids to their own devices.
For the last few days the moon has risen an hour or two after sunset, which in combination with cloudy skies creates a period of total darkness, the perfect conditions for our lions to head out and terrify the neighbourhood.
The gang consists of five young males and four girls, the smaller of which we call Kit Kat. She is an amazing lioness and the driving force behind the groups hunting efforts. Most lions may hunt once or twice a night before crashing out to sleep but Kit Kat just keeps on chasing and chasing anything that moves. We're exhausted. Her hunting 'technique’ is not so much to stalk an animal but to simply run it down! This method can work on dark nights, but not in daylight. We’ve repeatedly filmed her both day and night run over 100m flat out just to reach where her prey was standing before giving chase. Most adult lions employ some sort of stealth and patience but Kit Kat just relies on endless enthusiasm.
Kit Kat's insatiable appetite for hunting has led her to chase topi, zebra, Impala, and she even gets the odd fawn which her brothers promptly steal. But she and the rest of the gang seem to enjoy 'hippo surfing’ the most. On three separate occasions we have seen this pride of hooligans cling with their front paws onto the bottoms of the terrified running hippos, the lion's back legs bouncing like Pogo sticks behind them. The poor hippos run into a lugga and the lions give up. What has become clear is that these youngsters have yet to learn how to hunt for themselves. Perhaps chasing hippos is a good if rather dangerous way of learning their limitations.
This post written by Tom 'Cakeboy’ Stephens
*Brian is our name for him - he may also have another name