The cubs continue to do really well, expanding their environment day by day, as they explore a bit further into areas of the bush. Liuwa and Lekker just turned seven months old on Friday the 17th, and Lila and Lala are about two and half weeks ahead of them. The river continues to be their favorite place to play, and we go there often. They love the long grass, which gives them cover for stalking and chasing each other, and they go a bit nuts wrestling with tall clumps of grass, as well as having epic wrestling matches with each other. Every now and then they play their version of “you’re it” with each other, where three of them gang up on one of them, and you can see them practice their hunting and take-down skills in the process, where they circle behind the one who is “it” and attack from the back. They are getting more adventurous with wading slightly into the water when they spot something that they want, usually a branch or a clump of plant roots, getting wet and muddy in the process. Liuwa is typically the one to get the dirtiest, and it is somehow perfectly suited to her personality.
Another one of my favorite activities is getting time on the research vehicle, including game counts in the national park, where you never know what you’re going to see. We recently were fortunate to see a beautiful group of kudu, as well as the ever-so-entertaining giraffes. It’s always thrilling to see elephants emerge from the trees or across the plains, even when they block our path on the road for a bit. Perhaps one of my favorite animals to photograph is the zebra, as I swear they pose for the camera in a “take my photo, I’m pretty!” kind of way. I’ve met some really talented photographers, both here and while at Antelope Park, and it has inspired me to improve beyond my amateur skills, so I’ve really enjoyed time with them and seeing their work.
On Monday the 27th I will be going to Livingstone, Zambia, just on the other size of the Zambezi River, to spend some time with their team before coming back for my final bit of time in Victoria Falls. I’m looking forward to going to Livingstone, as they have a stage two release site with a magnificent pride of lions, as well as a very interesting elephant research project, and some great community projects. I will miss the cubs every day, and it will be a good trial run to my upcoming departure, when it will break my heart to say goodbye to them, as well as the wonderful team of people in Victoria Falls. It’s hard to believe that in in just under two months I’ll be leaving here to fly to Kenya for a two week safari, including Tanzania and Zanzibar, then back to the States. Africa grabs ahold of you in ways you’d never expect, seeping into the deepest parts of your spirit, and even sometimes rattling you to the core in its infamous “TIA” (“this is Africa”) way. But there is no place like it, and while I am sure I will return again someday, I am soaking it all in, a spiritual tattoo to take with me.