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Tanzania-Affectionate Lions is one of many articles to be created from photos taken on three connected safaris (Botswana and Zambia, Tanzania, and Kenya) between June 20 and July 31, 2009, with Cheesemans Ecology Safaris, Saratoga, California (www.cheesemans.com).
Lions have a reputation for being fearsome beasts but when gathered into prides, they frequently display their affectionate nature toward their sisters and cubs.
This particular series of photos shows some of this behavior. There must have been a dozen other vehicles surrounding them, but they seemed to take all this attention in stride.
Lions use body language to communicate with each other. They greet others by rubbing their faces and heads together. They also groom each other which helps keep them clean and free of parasites, but it is also a way of bonding with the others in the group. Lions can be quite loud as they grunt, hiss, purr, and snarl in addition to roaring.
Females are ready to mate several times every year, and a male lion can tell when a female is ready by her scent. He will guard her against other interested males.
About 100 to 120 days after conception, the lioness gives birth to a litter of 1 to 6 cubs, with the average being 2 or 3. Since the gestation period is so short, the cubs weigh less than 5 pounds. The cub's eyes open in about three weeks. They stay in a nest of thick vegetation. Young cubs are spotted, which helps them blend into their surroundings. Their mom nurses them throughout the day. Sometimes one of the mothers sisters will baby-sit. She will nurse her own cubs and those that belong to her sister.
After three months, cubs accompany their mother on hunting trips.
Diane and I flew out of Peoria on a 6:00 AM flight to Minneapolis on June 20. After a 7-hour wait, it was on to Amsterdam. After a 5-hour wait, we boarded a plane for an 11-hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, where we stayed overnight.
After completing the Botswana/Zambia portion of the journey, we flew in a four-passenger plane from Mfuwe, Zambia, via Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, where we boarded a 747 to Nairobi, Kenya, for an overnight stay before flying to Arusha, Tanzania.
Doug and Gail Cheeseman joined us at this time and stayed with us through Tanzania and Kenya. There were seventeen travelers participating in the Tanzania safari. Three of us were from the first leg, Botswana and Zambia, and fourteen joined us in Tanzania along with the Cheesemans and five native drivers.
From Mfuwe, Zambia, Diane and I were the only passengers in a plane designed for four passengers for the one-hour flight to Lillongwe, Malawi. The 33-pound limit per person as to both checked and carried luggage was applicable to this flight had there been two more people on the plane. The flight from Livingstone to Mfuwe had been on a slightly larger plane, but that also could have had the same weight restriction if it was a full plane.
After a two-hour wait in Lillongwe, we boarded a 747 for the short flight to Nairobi, Kenya, where we overnighted before flying to Arusha, Tanzania, where we spent two nights at the Mountain Village Lodge.
Doug and Gail Cheeseman joined us at this time to lead the group through Tanzania and Kenya. There were seventeen tourists participating on the Tanzania safari. Three of us were from the first leg, Botswana and Zambia, and fourteen joined us in Tanzania along with the Cheesemans and five native drivers.
We boarded vehicles which were like vans but had roofs which lifted up allowing us about 20 inches of open space for unobstructed views and photography.
Each day began early with breakfast either at the lodge or taken with us. Lunch was either at a lodge or taken with us, and we usually arrived at our lodging not later than 6:00 P.M. If we were doing game drives within a short distance of the nights lodging, each vehicle of four participants could decide on its arrival time back at the lodge. If we were changing lodging, we usually tried to arrive together early in the afternoon for check-in before continuing on with a game drive lasting until about 6:00 P.M.
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Jim and Diane Tanner
article published 12/15/2009