A family affair on the safari

'The One Eyed Bride', an old but very successful lioness.
'The One Eyed Bride', an old but very successful lioness.

I was catching up with old friends the other day.

We were last in the Okavango Delta in Botswana ten years ago. The time before that was 12 years ago.

On both trips we became familiar with “the One-Eyed Bride”, an old but very successful lioness.

Returning this year, we knew she would be long gone and wondered if a new pride had taken over her territory.

L ocal safari guides see the family most days and are able to keep track of who is who.

They fondly remember the old one-eyed lioness for her prowess as a hunter and mother despite her obvious impairment.

We were delighted when they were able to tell us this is the bride’s grandaughter between two grown cubs of her own, a male and a female.

This could be one of the old stunted shade trees we used to see the bride lying under. It was very nostalgic to think the young great-granddaughter on the left here, carries the genes of our old friend of so long ago.

Robbie, our guide, explained the bride’s daughter, mother of the adult lioness shown here, was killed by a male lion while trying to protect her cubs.

Power stuggles among lions make for a hard life, even before you factor in prey availability, flood, drought and hunting injuries. Injuries can mean death if they prevent a lion defending itself or being able to hunt.

This is where family is so important as it is vital to be able to depend on a united front in troubled times.

Lions, with their pack system, have a great advantage here. Tracing your family tree has become fairly simple in this computer age.

We rarely consider genealogy when thinking of wildlife.

Thankfully, safari guides pass down such information, so folk like me can keep up with old friends!

By George Hogg, Hogg Estate Services, Wildlife Management