Yesterday a rare lion birth was caught on camera. A lioness gave birth and then proceeded to hide her newborn cub in a well-hidden drainage line.
Mala-Mala is a concession of land east of the Kruger National Park and is home to many of Africa’s big cats. Wildlife lovers from around the world come here in search of the iconic leopards and lions that call these plains and riverine systems home.
“My guests and I went out on a morning drive and planned to look for some lions. As we left the camp, one of my colleagues found lion tracks in the central part of MalaMala Game Reserve. Immediately, we headed off in that direction to assist in the search. However, shortly before arriving in the area where the tracks were seen, he located a lone lioness.”
“We then joined the sighting. Little did we know that this was not just any ordinary lion sighting. This lioness was pregnant! Within 5 minutes of our arrival, she got up and began moving, perhaps looking for a cozier spot.”
“We then noticed something strange. It looked as though her stomach was moving. She was having contractions. Then she sat up straight and began licking herself, which we mistook for grooming. When she turned around, we realized what had just happened. She had just given birth! There it was, the tiniest little cub in her mouth.”
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Lionesses will leave their pride when they are ready to give birth and often choose thickets or drainage lines to do so, out of sight and out of danger from lurking predators. Perhaps that is why being able to witness a moment like this is extremely rare, even for guides who spend most of their lives in the company of these magnificent creatures.
“Immediately after, she got up and started walking away into the drainage line. We decided not to follow her, as we thought that might have added extra pressure on her. Hopefully, this will allow her to rest and tend to her young cub without undue stress.”
Lionesses have a gestation period of 110 days and give birth to live young that are tiny and vulnerable. Once born, cubs will not be able to see for some time and therefore require the attention and care of their mom. Only once the cubs can walk and see will they be introduced to the pride. Until then, their mom will take complete care of them.