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The Lady of Lewa and Her Family

November 23, 2010

The Lady of Lewa first become famous a number of years ago when a documentary was made about her mother. She was just a cub then and the film crew followed her through life until she was a young adult. She certainly grew up to be a special lion and had a family of her own. She was an excellent mother and the survival of her latest three cubs after her tragic death, is a fine example of the unique strength and skill she had and which she passed down to them.

She was easy to find because she wore a radio-tracking collar and could often be sighted in one of her select hunting grounds around the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Occasionally she was seen having joined a small pride consisting of a few other females and their cubs, however it was more common for her to be solitary. What made her so special was the fact that she was always around and everyone knew her. She was never shy of vehicles and cameras and always provided Lewa's visitors with an educational experience in the lives of lion. As her cubs became older, she was often seen teaching them how to hunt. She would appear to take a back seat and oversee her cubs' training sessions with the dedication of a sports team coach.

Earlier this year, the appearance of two very large males on Lewa got everyone talking. They had quite a presence and it was obvious they were looking for mates. It is not uncommon for male lion to kill cubs, even their own, in order to bring a female back into season so that they can mate her. It soon became clear that these two males had that precise intention and on several occasions, Lady was seen with serious injuries after fighting to defend her cubs. On one occasion, the Lewa Veterinary Team successfully treated the injuries and she made a full recovery. However, it was not long before the two males attacked her cubs for the third time, this time their brave mother fought to her death.

That night, thanks to their mother’s valiant efforts, the cubs escaped. They were seen the next morning looking lost and frightened. No one expected them to survive as they were barely one year old, which in the best of circumstances is too young to survive without a mother. Lewa, has a high concentration of predators, especially lion and the circumstances were far from best for these three cubs, not to mention the two new males lurking around.

Incredibly, three months on, the cubs have been seen preying on birds, young impalas and rabbits. They are still together, getting fatter and somehow managing to survive. They are defeating all the odds and surprising everyone with their skills. It is still too early to say if they will continue to survive, they still have a long way to go and nature has a habit of getting everyone’s hopes up before whipping it all away in one devastating swoop. However, nature also has a way of surprising and everyone here is hoping for a bright future for these three, as they are special and after everything they have survived, deserve to prosper. They are a fine reflection of their mother’s strength and we are all praying that they go on and for fill her legacy.

The cubs were most recently sighted this week, near the swamp. They had come, it seems, to say goodbye to Richard Moller, by spending time at the waterhole near his house.