It was still dark when we arrived at the wooden bridge that leads onto the Plains this morning.
As we approached the bridge a huge figure loomed up out of the darkness – the large, dominant male from this area – named Skinner. He marched across the wooden bridge, ignoring us as we followed him.
As Skinner walked along he roared, briefly glanced left and right, then marched along roaring again. He continued in this way with us close behind until he reached his pride. The lionesses with tiny cubs were overjoyed to see him, and the greetings, licking and grooming one another, were heartwarming to watch.
Then as we looked we could not believe our eyes!
Limping along to share in the greeting we could see the badly injured lioness from the encounter with the buffalo two days ago. We saw this whole pride of lions yesterday and she was the only missing member at that time, convincing us beyond any doubt that she had not survived.
We were overjoyed to see her, but remain very concerned that she is clearly still struggling badly. But the fact that she has survived the first 48 hours has totally amazed us and again filled us with awe as we regard her courage and dignity – and her attempts to keep her rightful place in her pride.
Meanwhile we watched as Skinner enjoyed a rough and tumble game with the small cubs, rolling around and pretending to be a cub himself. The interaction was beautiful!
We spent much of our time with this endearing family, and followed when Skinner started to move off with one of the lionesses and the cubs.
The lions reached a very deep water channel … far too deep to wade through. We watched as one by one they swam across – first Skinner swam with only his head barely above the water. Then when the lioness swam across, the little cubs followed suit as well. We could just see their tiny ears and little noses as they paddled safely across to the far side.
As the afternoon was progressing we quickly went to Leopard Point to see if the buffalo have thought of returning from Paradise Island, and were rewarded with the sight of the vanguard starting to come back. This is great news for us as they should soon be back in Silver – Eye’s territory.
As the sun started to sink toward the horizon we returned to the lions to get family pics of them against the blazing red and orange sky.
With the buffalo back on the Plains we plan to start there tomorrow …