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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
Cats
Corinne Kendall — in East Africa Project    Share

lion with cub

Lioness carrying cub

It is unusual to see a lion running. So we stopped. The lioness was on the road with no animals in front of her, so it clearly wasn’t a hunt. So why was she running? Her speed seemed one of urgency and determination, though she would jog along and then slow back to the more typical concerted steps of a lion. Eventually she found herself next to a small bush. As she approached I noticed that there was a near-lion sized hole in the branches surround the base of the little tree. When the lion arrived she squeezed herself in between the limbs and twigs of the plant and through the bramble I could see the yellow fur of another lion – a small one. Within seconds, the lioness had picked something up turned around and emerged from the small hole. In her mouth was a tiny cub. It looked so uncomfortable and unhappy to be in her mouth, but it didn’t make a sound. It just hung limp in her gentle grip with its eyes squinted shut. The lioness wandered off stopping occasionally to readjust her grip on this tiny treasure. She seemed exhausted for her efforts, struggling to breathe with this ball of fuzz in between her lips. Nonetheless she continued her hurried pace with little jogging spurts in between her walks – all the time with the cub’s body swaying beneath her.

A lion cub was to be the first of the elusive cats for the day – a spotted cat was next, though not the one you think. We drove up to the serval with great excitement and camera ready. I expected this to be short viewing. Servals are known for their shy behavior and rarely seen in the Mara, yet there she was trotting along in the open haven of the road with the occasional glance into the tall grass. Then the cat headed into the grass though not out of view. Instead it stalked along, creeping gracefully as it eyed the small birds landing ahead of it. No kills were made, but the serval did give us an exceptional viewing, moving in and out of the grass and even stopping to look at the camera occasionally.

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