Cubs Are Cute!!- Article by Gareth Jones
Cute Cubs Of The Nairobi National Park – Written by Gareth Jones
Just imagine for a moment if we could actually understand Lion talk!… Cleo the little lion cub lay on her back with her mother in the long soft green grass, under the tall leafy trees, almost next to the main gate. As Cleo lay there for some time, a low grumbling noise could be heard occasionally, “Mama!!..what is that noise we keep hearing?”. Mama replied in a knowing tone “Well my cub …we know them as “grumble-shines”, they have strange rolling legs and always seem to be in a mood as they growl wherever they go, and they also do not smell good and are filled with humans”. Cleo thought for a while and then said “but Mama why do so many “grumble-shines” go past us all the time ?”. Mama replied “Well my cub, there are many theories, but the baboons seem to know the main reason after listening carefully to the humans talking, as I listen to the baboon jabber-jabber-jabber every day and my understanding is that the many humans go through the gate in their “grumble-shines” to “LOOK FOR LIONS!!”, they are known to rumble around for hours in the heat and dust, just to try and find one of us, then when they see us the humans behave very strangely, they point funny things at us that click and sometimes flash brightly, and some of them even climb on top of their “grumble-shines”. “Wow, Mama!! ….that is really crazy!” said little Cleo, “We relax here all day in the cool shade while they must get so hot in their “rumble-shines”.
About 7 years ago I watched a lioness we called Mica with her family for some time. Late one afternoon this week, her two young cubs were lying next to her, however, I was glad to see her two older (2yr & 2 months old) offspring lying nearby, Raffie and Elsie. Raffie had a very swollen mouth, possibly caused by a porcupine quill that lodged in his mouth the previous week, he was still very thin but looking slightly better than when last I saw him. Elsie was also looking thin, as I had not seen her for a few months, however, she was limping badly! But the little cubs seemed to be really enjoying the wet conditions, as they played happy games like “catch me if you can”, “jump the puddle” and “catch the tail”. It was delightful to just sit and watch them as they played in and around the muddy road. They also tried to play with the older lions like Raffie and even Mica. When watching the cubs play, it is easy to reflect on the old English saying “as playful as a kitten” being applicable to lion cubs as well. The joyful mood of the cubs seemed to lift the sombre mood of the other lions, much like young human children often lift our spirits at times. As it began to get darker, Mica suddenly decided it was time to go, and I watched them as they walked off, past the No5 junction stone sign, and eastward past the lone tree. Sadly, Raffie & Elsie were also small cubs about two years ago and now they are both struggling. Sadly, over a period of time, none of these cubs survived, and Mica simply disappeared never to be seen again.
Seeing lion cubs is always a cute moment, especially when observing their seemingly innocent and mischievous nature, however, the harsh reality is that very few of them actually survive in the wild, and really struggle to grow up and become adults. The transition from cute cub to big cat carnivore depends on the survival of the fittest.