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Lioness Carries Newly Born Lion Cubs in Mouth

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It is exceptionally rare to see a lioness carrying her newly cubs in her mouth. We're so fortunate that the team witnessed this and managed to capture it on camera and video.

This lioness sneaked away from the pride at Kariega Game Reserve to give birth on around 4 June 2020. Shortly afterwards we noticed that the she was lactating and, while on patrol, our anti-poaching unit reported hearing "cub-like sounds." Our senior guides Wayne Howarth and Brendon Jennings, along with cameraman Ferg Clark, wildlife presenter James Hendry and producer KirstyKirsty Mclennan-Smith headed out to see if they could locate the cubs in the den.

The team finally located the site and then waited for three hours before they caught a glimpse of the mother coming to collect her cubs, one at a time, and carrying them in her mouth to the new den.

Guide Wayne comments: “No doubt one of the highlights of my guiding career! We sat and waited for three hours to witness this amazing sight of a lioness relocating her three new cubs, one at a time, from a little thicket next to us.”

Kariega James Hendry Lion Cub 14 June2020

Celebrating Newly Born Lion Cubs

Our team is delighted with the birth of these three lion cubs and to have the privilege to watch, photograph and capture them on video at only about 10 days old. This sighting was on 14 June 2020 while the reserve is temporarily closed to guests due to COVID-19.

The lioness will keep her cubs hidden for at least eight weeks and is likely to move the cubs again to keep them safe from predators and the other lions. After about two months she will bring them out of hiding and introduce them to the pride.

It is amazing that this big cat, with her sharp teeth and strong jaws, can carry her cub so gently. It seems that cubs are wired to help as they completely relax when they are lifted making their transport easier for their mother.

We were fortunate to share this sighting live on Instagram and it is now saved as an IGTV post our Kariega Game Reserve Instagram profile and in various video stories can be viewed on our Instagram wildlife highlight.

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Video thanks to Ferg Clark and photograph thanks to James Hendry.