We saw this pride of lions every day during our five days of camping in Etosha National Park, Namibia. We counted eleven but were told there are at least fourteen members in total. At first we found them a bit boring. They sit around all day doing absolutely nothing. Occasionally we would catch a yawn like this one. Then one night we were the last vehicle out before sunset and the entire pride came walking down the road toward us. They surrounded our car and would not let us pass.
The cubs that at first had seemed small and cute, suddenly appeared large and deadly. The young female in this photo was particularly mischievous. She looked at our tiny rental car the way a house cat looks at mouse.
I’m pretty sure our car insurance doesn’t cover lion damage. Though she still has her baby teeth, we could tell that one day soon she would be the mightiest hunter in her pride.
We began to honk our comically tiny horn but it didn’t deter the group. We were trying to maneuver through the bodies when the largest female stepped out into the road in front of us, looking directly into our eyes with her ears flattened and her muscles tensed. The look on her face said “We’re not finished with you yet.” When I finally managed to get up the nerve to drive past her, I hit the gas and sped away. To my shock, in the rearview mirror I saw the huge lioness and several of her cubs chasing us down the road at full speed! They soon gave up and we made it back to camp with pounding hearts.
Brindley is an American conservation biologist, wildlife photographer, filmmaker, writer, and illustrator living in Asheville, NC. He studied black-footed cats in Namibia for his master’s research, has traveled to all seven continents, and loves native plant gardening. See more of his work at Travel for Wildlife, Truly Wild, Our Wild Yard, & Naturalist Studio.