A few days ago we received and posted this photograph of the latest member of the Olkiombo Pride in the Maasai Mara. It’s a darling snap of a cute little lion cub out to trot in the wild with his father watching over him. This post struck a chord. It notched up over 300 likes within the first few hours and went on to generate massive interest from around the globe. We had a viral hit on our hands, with comments and appreciation flooding in for a week from countries near and far.
It led many to ask, just who is this cub and what’s the story behind this enthralling photograph?
Heir to the Notch dynasty
This young cub has a rich heritage as the son of Caesar, one of the five sons of the legendary Maasai Mara lion, King Notch. Notch is a true survivor and his life has been documented in Disney’s African Cats and the long-running BBC nature documentary series, Big Cat Diary (also known as Big Cat Week or Big Cat Live according to the format). Notch has lived a storied life with his reign encompassing more than one pride in the Mara. Ousted from the Marsh Pride in 2007, this fierce warrior went on to govern the Mara North Territory with his sons, Notch 2, Caesar, Long, Grimace and Ron.
As cute and cuddly as he looks on the photograph, young Caesar Junior faces a harsh struggle to survive on the plains of East Africa. Caesar Junior is the last survivor of his litter, his mom having lost the other 3 cubs within the first 14 days.
Onesmus Ole Irungu, Asilia Africa guide, first spotted the cub breast feeding when he was only around 10 days old. He visited the same area four days later, in the hope of catching another glimpse of the cub. Onesmus was surprised to find the cub walking around outside of his den, crying for his mother, while his big brother and sister watched over him. His brother and sister are around one year of age, and such young lions don’t usually make the best babysitters.
Young Caesar cried all day for his mum, without any sign of the lioness. Perhaps she had gone hunting at night and she was still away, or something was keeping her from the den. Lionesses are usually very protective of their young, especially during the first month after birth. Whatever her reasons, the safety of young Caesar was not assured. As the subject of a photograph that had touched so many, we were concerned for his fate.
A few days later, we were pleased to see Caesar with the Pride, doing fine and growing strong.
The lives of these majestic creatures are filled with conflict and struggle. Encroaching human settlements and cattle farming, natural predators and rival prides all pose risks to their survival. Fortunately, young Caesar is the son of a wild king of Africa’s plains, and with a bit of luck he too will one day have command of a pride and many young cubs of his own.
Rekero Camp, neighbours to the Olkiombo Pride
If you would like to see young Caesar and his Pride in the Mara, and share in his journey, come visit us at Rekero Camp. Rekero overlooks an ancient animal river crossing point in the Maasai Mara and offers a front-row seat from which to witness the spectacular annual migration.