Just as the first light was breaking and the air was still crisp and fresh, we came across a pride of lions lazing around a waterhole we call the Banyini Pan. It was clear that the adult cats had enjoyed a busy night on patrol as they were keen to just have their drink of water and then go and find a quiet, shady secluded area to rest in during the heat of the day.
As per most young animals (and humans for that matter!) there is a lot more stored up energy resulting in lots of much needed play and mischief. The pride all enjoyed the water and began to walk through the savannah, heading for the ideal resting grounds off in the distance, however they did not seem to rush. Instead the adults would walk through the grasslands, under the umbrella thorns and periodically pause or lie down. This was because the younger cats were busy stalking any adult or sibling walking past that was not paying attention, or they would be using natural environmental objects like termite mounds and huge fallen branches to ambush each other from or play a game of “king of the castle” – each energetic cat trying to hold the top position and all others trying to knock it off.
Watching lions like this invokes a smile on my face as I not only identify with lots of these characteristics but it also demonstrates to me that these are Happy Cats! They are happy because they can live and enjoy their lives free of the threat from ill-minded humans, and they have a safe and good environment to live in with appropriate resources to use in accordance with their natural means. This is all thanks to the teams of conservationists and security personal working behind the scenes on this reserve. So, when I see the lions enjoying themselves, I know that it’s because of dedicated people doing a good job. Of course the lions don’t know that, but by playing they are subconsciously honing imperative hunting and social skills that will set them up for life.