Her tail curled seductively in the air, exposing her derriere to him and he was transfixed. “Come here handsome, “ it said. Then she bolted through the high grass teasing him with a game of catch-me-if-you-can. He followed her; she knew he would. He had to, her cub’s life depended on it.
In a lion’s world, there is stunning beauty and equal parts cruelty. A male lion, gunning for the territory of another, will kill the cubs of the resident male to make sure its genes do not survive and to make way for his own offspring. After a female loses her cubs, she goes into heat giving the conquering male the opportunity to swoop in and spread his wealth, so to speak.
On a sunny, Fall morning, Sikio, an immensely handsome lion was on the prowl. He had his sights set on a lovely lioness that had no interest in bedding her dashing pursuer, though she teased him relentlessly. She had a different plan in mind and it meant luring Sikio far away from the cub she’d hidden nearby.
A few days earlier, we saw the cub and its mother and a few other females, lapping up water from a ditch on the edge of a dirt road. Looking at his over-sized paws, sweet kitten face, and the most adorable, fat furry tummy, he didn’t look doomed.
We knew that Sikio, and his two brothers, a coalition of three (a term used to describe males that live and hunt together), had crossed the Mara River into the Mara Triangle where we camped. They’d become the dominant males in the area and neither Sikio or his brothers, Hunter and Scar, would let the cub live if they found him. He was not one of theirs and he would have to go. We dreaded what would inevitably come, and I prayed that I wouldn’t be there to see it.
On the morning of what I like to call the lion lap dance, Sikio fell hard for our heroine’s parlor tricks. He followed her for miles. At times, she would disappear and he’d search for her, periodically stopping to roar. He sniffed the ground to track her and when he captured her scent his head would swing up and he’d take off in a trot.
When he found her she would snarl and swat at him and then two seconds later lift her tail in invitation. He would snarl back but it was obvious who was in control. He could look. He could want. He could not touch.
At times she would lay down in that “come hither” way, and I swear I could see the relief on his face as he crawled on top of her. But just when I thought she’d given in, she’d scoot out from underneath him, shooting forward like a rocket, and he’d give chase.
Again and again, she tantalized him, and he was going crazy, but all the while she moved him farther and farther from her cub.