In September 2019, a mother lion gave birth to two lion cubs. Part of a larger pride of eleven lions, the mother spent the first few months of their lives protecting them, never risking their safety. Four months later the unthinkable seemed to have happened…..the mother was gone and the cubs were entirely on their own.
Between September and December, sightings of the cubs with their mother and the alpha male of the pride were frequent. Guests at Matetsi Victoria Falls were enthralled with many taking pictures of the gorgeous animals. At some point when the first rains set in, the pride appeared to split off into different directions. The mother and her cubs remained close to the camp and were seen hunting baboons in mid January.
During the latter part of January and into February the lioness and her cubs were seen less and less frequently together with the pride and eventually, not at all. Guides began to notice a decline in the overall health of the cubs during this time. It seemed the mother was having trouble hunting on her own and eventually in March, guides stopped seeing the lioness altogether. The lion cubs were on their own and the disappearance of their mother, a mystery. Speculation was that she may have died from a crocodile attack or buffalo injuries.
The cubs were regularly spotted around Nomakana and Kudu Alley areas of Matetsi Private Game Reserve. It was very clear from their poor condition that they were not eating. Absolutely heart breaking as it was, Matetsi Private Game Reserve is a true wilderness area and as such, they do not intervene in situations like these. Guides were compelled to step back and watch, hope and pray for their survival.
Finally in April…..HOPE! The emaciated cubs were spotted together with a black maned male lion on a buffalo kill. Showing strong paternal instincts for the little ones, the male stayed with them for three days, guarding them from hyenas, while they fed up. After three days, he left and the cubs were once again on their own.
For two heart stopping weeks, the cubs were alone. Their attempts at hunting unsuccessful, having never been fully taught before their mom disappeared. Their condition worsened and they began looking incredibly frail.
In mid April, guides breathed a huge sigh of relief! Together with his whole pride, the black maned male returned and reunited with the cubs. For several days, guides observed the interaction between the cubs and the pride and were thrilled to find that the pride had accepted and bonded with the cubs. The lionesses were seen demonstrating their protective instinct….the cubs finally seemed in the good hands of their new family…. Not seen again for a few days, they were picked up again and evidence suggests the cubs are still doing wonderfully.
On the 27th of April, the tracks of buffalo being followed by lion were picked up. There was evidence of two young cubs in the pride….
What a beautiful story reminding us that there is ALWAYS hope. We look forward to hearing more from Matetsi Victoria Falls about these miracle cubs.
About Matetsi Victoria Falls
Matetsi Victoria Falls, located on the banks of the spectacular Zambezi River, is one of Africa’s most stylish luxury lodges. Easily accessible to the world-famous Victoria Falls, the lodge offers one of the finest combination experiences in Africa – with exclusive access to 55,000 hectares of pristine wilderness for safari, in addition to river experiences and Victoria Falls at guests’ fingertips.
Acclaimed for its exquisite contemporary interiors, the property has scooped up a number of design awards and travel accolades since it opened in 2016.
Family-owned and independently run with an expert team at the helm, the attention to detail given to the design, service and food as well the experiences on offer makes this an unrivalled experience in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa.