Facts of Life

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Posted by Sara Blackburn at 9:27 PM

The first few weeks of life is tough for little lions. They face many dangers, from heavy rains and floods to angry buffalo and sneaky hyena.

Last week, Lilly carried her two babies to Caesar and Siti. Both cubs and mum seemed comfortable and relaxed and I felt no need to worry.

littleones Lilly’s two cubs snuggle close

Sadly, Lilly became increasingly detached from her babies. After introducing them to the pride a little early, one small cub was seen lying some way from the group, and sadly was not seen again. When she took the remaining cub to a kill, she devoted most of her attention to her meal, leaving the little one alone amongst hyenas. Since then, there has been no sign of the cub.

lilly Lilly became uninterested in her babies…

Abandonment does occur with lion cubs, but this usually occurs with single cubs or those which are weak or injured. Lionesses also abandon cubs if there is a shortage of food, although I doubt that this is the case with these powerful, healthy girls. Perhaps Lilly sensed that her cubs were not well, or felt uneasy in the presence of the other lions? She did move the cubs regularly, which may have indicated that she was not settled.

This is a real shame, but the good news is that Silver’s cubs are still doing very well. My fingers are crossed for these ones, but I think they will do just fine. Lions are capable of reproducing quickly in the right conditions, and with Caesar resident in the group, she’ll soon be mating.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on the remaining four little ones. This group has certainly been through rough patches with their cubs... let's hope this trend doesn't continue.