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The Cat’s Meow

Exhausted and all worn out from their playing, the little lion cubs collapse into a heap of oversized paws, twitching, tufted ears and snowy whiskers. John and I look across at each other, almost unable to believe this incredible chance sighting of the six cubs rocketing out of the undergrowth of Narina Trogon river bed, running helter-skelter, play fighting and tumbling over and over in the soft sand like so many kittens. It was impossible to keep eyes on all of them at once – as two pinned their bother to the ground in mock battle, one adventuresome cub began the heady ascent of a low branch – only to slip off into the melee of racing and chasing. With John free for the afternoon, we had decided to go out into the bush and hopefully find some elephant to photograph – little did we expect to find the frisking little lions but then you never know what you might see on safari! Having watched them tire themselves out at play we eventually pulled away to return to camp with one last longing, lingering look at the now happily snoozing cubs.

Not two nights ago the our evening walk home was halted by traffic, but not your usual rush hour queue, this was more in the feline style, as we watched a large male leopard using the walkway as cover as he stalked impala in the low light. The six of us stood spellbound as he patiently steeled down to wait out the heightened alarm, completely relaxed in our whispered presence not 20 feet away. Still as a sphinx, and then gone in an instant, like the passing of a dream.

To top the week of truly phenomenal sightings, the three big male lions of the Chakwenga Pride wandered across the floodplain beneath camp during dinner last night, roaring lustily before taking a short break to relax and lie down directly opposite the bar to the complete astonishment and excitement of our guests…

Suffice it to say, we’ve been feline pretty amazing this week…

Words and Image Tara Vivian-Neal