The sad reality of the wild is that just because something is alive today, it doesn’t mean it will be alive tomorrow. Now you might say that’s no different from anywhere else, and technically, I suppose that’s true. But on average, if a person has a child, it’s not the norm for other people to try to kill it.
In the bush, babies are constantly at risk from environmental pressures, predators, and in the case of lions, adult males that have no use for cubs that aren’t their own. Last year, when I was in the Masai Mara, we photographed over several days, two adult females and their seven oh-so-scrumptious cubs.
Once home, I looked at pictures of the cubs and wondered if they were OK. How many were alive two weeks later? Two months? Six months later? I’d search posts from friends who were there and breathe a sigh of relief when I’d see them on Facebook. But as time went by, everyone I knew left the Mara and life went on. Sadly, I just assumed that they wouldn’t all make it.
Fast forward to this past September, when I returned to Kenya and the Mara Triangle. We were watching a pride of lions resting under a tree and suddenly the cubs came to mind. I asked Sammy, our guide, if he knew anything about the fate of the cubs from the year prior. He pointed at the big lions in front of us and said chuckling, those ARE the cubs!
What?! In my head they were still small, well, maybe a smidge bigger, but THAT big? Whoa!
And the best news of all: all of them had survived!