After not having been seen for a few months despite numerous attempts, Nimaoi was finally drawn out of the depths of the whistling thorn one night with the promise of a free lion left-over wildebeest carcass. Looking thin and fatigued, she tore into the meat with ravenous enthusiasm, too hungry to be very concerned by our presence or the spotlight, enabling perfect viewing. To our delight, her nipples were swollen and prominent – a sign she had produced her first litter of cubs and is now lactating.
We suspected she had the cubs hidden away in the rocky lava bed. Born completely helpless, cubs are often left hidden whilst the mother goes off to hunt or socialise with other pride members, sometimes even for periods of over 24 hours. Only after 4 weeks or more do cubs begin accompanying their mother.
Early January we were delighted to find Nimaoi with 3 adorable little cubs. Initially she kept them mostly hidden in the bushes so we were lucky to get a few quick glimpses, but with each subsequent visit they all became much more relaxed with the vehicle. The cubs appear to be about a month old.
Nimaoi spent many months in Kasaiyo’s company so we suspect he is the father. It will be interesting to see whether she joins up with Kasaiyo and Lormanie again once the cubs have grown a little bigger. We will monitor mother and cubs closely and keep you updated with their progress.