Lions and tigers are my favourite animals, I wish I could have one of either (I am not choosy) as a pet. Recently I went to Assam. In a certain tea garden, the manager, his wife and son had rescued a dying five-days-old leopard cub who had been forsaken by her mother, nursed her, trained her and had her for several months (with the Forest Division’s permission). Next time they get one I will surely make it my pet.
I was sad that very few people understood the last fiction easily. I realise, not every one shares my craze for tigers and lions. For me, what is common knowledge, it might not be for several. So here are a few snippets I have written in a hurry to share. Because these animals are the most fascinating creatures to walk the earth. Here are the lions as I saw the, as I know them.
This is a snap of the lion’s den or hideout, where the family was having an afternoon siesta. There were in all about four lions, and twelve lionesses along with several cubs frolicking about in the den. These many numbers we could see, there may have been more around, hidden among the long grasses. The hill is known as “Lion’s Hill” because of the huge pride staying there. Lions are also very territorial, though relatively much less than tigers.
The lioness had got on the alert the moment she smelled zebras in the vicinity, the smell carried by the light breeze. Since the breeze was towards the lions’ den, away from the zebras, the zebras had come very near the foothills of the den while grazing, unaware.
The lionesses usually hunt in pairs or small groups at breaking dawn or very early morning. A single lioness may also be the lone hunter when she is hunting to feed her cubs but usually most lionesses of a pride (lions living together, or the family) hunt together.
Lions are usually very lazy. They only hunt by themselves, when they are hungry and the wives (a lion usually has 3-4 partners) haven’t or did not hunt. Or may be simply because the lion doesn’t want to share. The lionesses are the ones who procure food for the family. However, for taking down the big animals, like buffaloes, the lions often accompany the hunting groups.
My observation was, as much the lions are beautiful with their golden mane of hair, the lionesses look much more stronger, muscular and aptly look like a hunting carnivore. The lionesses are much more regal, and it shows in their walk. The lions really move majestically but watching the lioness’ stately prowl in their slow pace is most fascinating.
In the above picture, the lioness came down from the top of the hillock, and sat next to our Jeep, waiting for another lioness who was coming. The lionesses usually stay within a few kilometres radius around the lion in all directions, and usually keep a look out.A lion/lioness can see seven times the distance than a normal human eye.
This is another picture I took, that of a lioness and her cubs having a meal. The lioness had just killed the zebra all by herself for the family, especially her cubs.
A zebra lasts for the family for about three days, so it can be estimated that this lioness did not hunt till the fourth day. The lioness uses her sharp canines to cut out the stomach, and then the cubs can feed on it. They mainly feed on the stomach and some surrounding muscles. A deer lasts for only a day or so for the lions, and the rare buffaloes longer.
Here’s another snap of a lion and lioness, at 6 o’clock in the morning who crossed in front of our Jeep, possibly tired after a whole night’s work. They went behind a large bush and sat down in the shade. The lions with their yellow-brown coat colour are barely discernible when they stalk in the grass. The lion went to sleep at once and the lioness kept a vigil for some time before lying down next to him.
We saw them get up from their slumber and prowl back into the darkness at around half past six in the evening of the same day. Just check out their gait, and the grand bearing. No wonder lions are called the King of the Jungle.
I hope you enjoy these photographs as much as I do, and hopefully, now you know a bit more about these wondrous creatures, the lions. For me, they are simply amazing!
N.B. All the photographs were taken by us (my sister and I) in Masai Mara, Kenya, October 2008. G.