Every Monday morning, the kids and I wake up early to go to town. Our nearest town is Phalaborwa, which is about 50 kilometres away from our staff village in Letaba. With the 50 km an hour speed limit, it takes us about an hour to get there. We have found a very nice kindergarten there, so Alex can go and play with his friends, while I go and do my weekly shopping in town. We don’t often see lions on our way to school, but the last couple of weeks we have been quite lucky!
When we go to town, we usually don’t ‘game drive’ so to say. If we did that, it would take us forever to get to Phalaborwa, so we just drive our speed limit and only stop for the special things. Sometimes we can go weeks without any nice sightings, and sometimes we are just incredibly lucky! Now the last month or so, we have found a mating couple of lions every other Monday or so, close the Nhlanganini dam. The children and I have had fantastic sightings of them early mornings and sometimes even on our way back around one o’clock in the afternoon.
This morning, we left just after six o’clock when it was still a little bit dark for our weekly trip to school and town. Jack usually sits in his car seat on the passenger seat next to me and Alex sits in his booster seat in the back.
The hyena den close to the four-way junction was quiet, so we didn’t stop there. The only hyena I saw was in the Maswidzudzu stream, but he was too far away for the kids to see.It was such a lovely morning today! As the sun came up, everything was bathing in that beautiful golden, early morning light. The Mopani leafs are slowly changing colour now that winter is here and it just looks stunning out there.
About 12 kilometres from Letaba camp, the road goes up a little hill and makes a slight turn to the left. At the top of the hill you can see the straight road all the way down to the Nhlanganini dam. This is the stretch of road where we have been finding the mating couples of lions in the last few weeks. And this morning here there was another mating couple! I am pretty sure it is the same male, but it must be different females every time. This male is a very busy boy!!
We were the fist car there, so I stopped a bit of a distance away not to spook them. They relaxed again quickly so I could sneak a little closer. Before long, another two vehicles arrived. They drove up a bit too close to comfort for the male who started snarling and growling a bit. Alex and Jack were loving it! Shame Alex started humming the one song from his favourite movie the Lion King; the one right at the beginning of the movie, it was too cute! “Kijk mama, Simba!” “ Look mommy, Simba!” He said a few times.
The female was a bit restless and she moved closer to my car. The mated only a few metres from my bonnet! What an amazing sighting!! I will post a video of them mating on our Facebook page. When I look at mating lions, I cannot help but think it is not really a pleasurable experience for the female at all. She gave the male a bit of a slap as he dismounted. Shame. The one moment she cannot get enough of him, the next moment he gets a smack. I guess he is used to it, having been around the block a few times;-)
We watched as they mated another two times, and then I slowly snuck past them. Alex was late for school!!
He is the only kid in his class that has thése sorts of excuses though!