Wrath of The Lionesses
A Short Story
It was a warm, lively and vibrant day in the Kruger National Park while we were out on our afternoon drive through the MalaMala concession. As the sun overtook us in the sky and headed downstairs to meet the horizon, a slight chill hugged us and told us that daylight was almost over. Just before the sun closed the door, it threw colorful blankets out over the wild, each a slightly different shade of orange, pink or purple. We continued to drive out into the changing landscape, to see what we could find…
As we drove up towards the river, we decided to stay alongside it for a while just in case any wildlife decided to have evening drinks. We were right to trust our guide’s instincts, as a few meters up ahead we found not one, but about twenty lionesses and their cubs resting on the riverbank! We slowly and silently moved the vehicle around the bend to park a bit away so as not to disturb them, but still be close enough to get a spectacular view of the pride’s interactions. Cubs were play-fighting and pulling on each other’s tails, mothers were feeding cubs who fought each other for a teat, other lionesses were pacing silently keeping a lookout, while we tried to spot any males within the pride… but with no such luck.
About twenty minutes later, we all turned our heads at once as we heard a distinct sound coming from the long grass off to the side of the scene; loud enough to be noticed by all, but soft enough for the culprit to be indistinguishable. Although we were all taking turns in guessing what the source of the noise was, the lionesses were already ten steps ahead of us, and kept a firm eye on the grass without breaking their stance. Suddenly, as if a switch went off, one of the lionesses launched into the bushes at full speed! The noises that pursued were straight out of a sound studio: sharp, loud and vibrating.
All these sounds came together in a chaotic culmination of roars and growls, ones which we had thought were only coming from the attacking lioness. However, we soon heard another roar join the pandemonium, a deeper and seemingly more panicked one. At that exact moment, two other lionesses ran into the brawl, leaving behind their cubs who all ran to huddle together in a pile of fur and small claws. Although these moments were intense, the cubs’ feeble attempts at roars to try join in was quite heartwarming. The commotion continued for around five whole minutes until we finally caught a glimpse of what was making the lionesses so upset – a terrified male lion backed up against the grass, trying his best not to back down from three highly maddened lionesses.
Finally, the lionesses stopped their battle cries and we soon saw them walking out from the thick vegetation in single file, breathing heavily and moving quickly back to their cubs. The male lion was now nowhere to be seen. One could say he had been petrified beyond the point of return. The females had done their job and had kept their young safe from the ardent male, and his brother who was waiting in the wings, eyeing out the pride for dominance: an occasion which would have put all the cubs’ lives in severe danger.
This dramatic event was a privilege for us to witness and a true testament to the strength and bravery of a lioness. They are fierce mothers, stealthy hunters and dominant leaders, and are certainly not to be trifled with, even by the biggest of males. We all watched silently and in awe as the mothers gathered around their cubs once more, visibly comforting them and assuring them that they were now safe from danger.
By this point, the darkness was too much for our eyes. We could no longer see the scene, but only the bright green reflections of the speckled eyes of the pride. Without wanting to use torches any further so as not to bother the lions, we decided to turn around and make the journey back to camp.
On the drive we conversed and marveled at what we had just seen, sharing our own personal interpretations of the event. We were all totally enthralled by the experience of getting to see an incredible twenty-strong pride with so many young, and were also exceedingly overwhelmed by the evident strength, emotion and loyalty that is present within the core fiber of lion prides.