Being a mother

Grumeti · June 2019
By Mishi Danstan Mtili
Field Guide

We set off under the cover of darkness in the early morning and on to one of my favourite drainage lines to look for lions. As it began to get light I caught site of the Butamtam lionesses and their youngsters. We gently approached the lionesses and then switched the engine off and watched. One of the more mature lionesses, the daughter of ‘Mama Scar’, was busy nursing her five youngsters. This is interesting as lionesses only possess four teats.

As a result of the stiff competition for mother’s milk I noticed that the youngest cub was losing condition, quite simply because it was not getting enough sustenance from mother. The youngster that had been muscled out began to call to mama, and something incredible happened…

The lioness shook off the other four feeding cubs and walked away with the youngest. She then lay down and began to nurse the little youngster and growled and chased away any of the other cubs when they tried to get near! It really was incredible and very special to me, arousing that motherly love, I felt I could connect.

By Mishi Danstan Mtili
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