Battle on the Mara (aka The Tale of the Tenacious Cubs )

I’ve never tried to drag half a dead wildebeest in my mouth but I’m thinking it can’t be easy. It’s not a task I often contemplate mind you, but it came to my attention last year when a determined female from a large pride was doing just that in the Mara Triangle.

Lion drags wildebeest carcass on the Masai Mara, Kenya

The cats had killed two or three wildebeest that morning (it was hard to say, remains were pretty scattered) and eaten their fill, but she wanted to move the head and part of the torso to where the pride was relaxing by a stream about 50 yards away. It was mighty slow going.

The whole escapade was incredibly awkward. Holding the wildebeest by the throat as she straddled it between her legs, she could only take a few steps forward before having to release it, reorganize and try again. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a couple of troublesome cubs were driving her crazy.

Lion fights with cub over wildebeest carcass on the Masai Mara, Kenya

Lion drags wildebeest carcass on the Masai Mara, Kenya

“Ugh”(drag drag drag) “This wildebeest is heavier than it looks.”

While all the lions sported tummies so full they practically scraped the ground, a few greedy kitties kept trying to take a bite out of the carcass while the lioness was hauling it through the grass.  First one, then two, the cubs relentlessly nipped at her heels. Literally.

Imagine carrying an entrée from the kitchen to the dining room while your children are trying to eat it along the way. Annoying right?

Meanwhile, back at the other half of the unfortunate wildebeest, a wake of vultures, marabou storks and a small pack of spotted hyenas were in a frenzy trying to eat as much as possible before the lioness came back for the rest of the kill.  As it was, in between scolding the cubs, she’d spy the scavengers, drop the wildebeest and chase them away.

Just as tenacious as the cubs, the scavengers would pounce on the remains as soon as she turned her back.

vultures and hyena eat a wildebeest carcass on the Masai Mara in Kenya

While the cat is away….vultures and a few marabou stork feast on the remains of the wildebeest

vultures and hyena eat a wildebeest carcass on the Masai Mara in Kenya

It wasn’t long before the vultures were unceremoniously intimidated  by a small pack of spotted hyena. The birds could only watch as the hyena gobbled up the goods.

vultures and hyena eat a wildebeest carcass on the Masai Mara in Kenya

“Uh oh….. is that the lioness coming back?”


“Those damn scavengers!”

Back to the lions….

You know that saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”? When William Congreve coined that phrase, he obviously hadn’t seen this little lady. Otherwise he would have said “Hell hath no fury like a lioness fighting with her cubs over a kill.” She snarled and swiped at the little buggers trying to drive them away but her efforts were in vain.

Lion fights with cub over wildebeest carcass on the Masai Mara, Kenya

” I SAID NO!!!!!”

It didn’t matter that she acted as if she was going to tear them limb from limb. They had her number; they were loved. Her bark was much worse than her bite so they just kept coming.


In the end, she just gave up.


~ Taken during a Wild Eye Photographic Safari.

Categories: Africa, Kenya Safaris, Safaris

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26 replies »

  1. Susan: I love your photos and particularly those and your stories re: Africa, where I have had some of my best travels and memories. Your story of the impudent young lions reminds me of one of my trips to Africa on safari in Kenya where mid-day a group of young lions, equivalent we were told to teen-agers, laid in the middle of the road for vehicles, frolicking on their backs and with each other, with no apparent concern for their safety in this public exposure. I was fascinated with how similar their behavior was to the young middle school boys where I lived in California walk down the middle of a road together, as if to taunt drivers, and perhaps fate.

    • Love your story. I’ve seen things similar and it always amazes me that while we are different species there are so many similarities between animals and humans. Thank you for spending time with the blog! Have a great weekend

  2. Another great post and wonderful images Susan…….it reminds me of those parents who take their kids to the supermarket to do the weekly shop…….and the kids are being mischievous by putting things in the trolley that they shouldn’t.

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