Cats in general, especially African lions, are known to hate the water. For this pride, it seemed like a fun day out for the family.
Mike Kirkman, 37-year-old head ranger in MalaMala Game Reserve in Greater Kruger, captured this family-outing to the Sand River on MalaMala.
Mike tells Latest Sightings the story: “I had followed the lioness to a thicket where she called her cubs who were hidden. Once they came out, we followed them to the river where they lay down in the water, then moved on again to where she and two male lions had killed a buffalo. The next day I found the lions at the same carcass and the males also now in the water, where she joined them. The cubs were also running around in the area playing in the river.
It was more surprising than anything. The Charleston Pride (these lions) was known to lay in shallow water, but I had never seen them as deep as this and evidently enjoying being cooled off. The cubs obviously thought this was completely normal and so just carried on. These are the only lions and indeed the only cats that I have ever seen in the wild just plop down in the river to cool off and have fun in the water.
The lions eventually moved off after they had finished their buffalo. I never saw them in the water like that again. The 2 Males (Charleston Males) later became quite well known and recognizable when one had a tooth knocked loose and hanging down like a saber-tooth cat for some time. The lioness and cubs moved into Kruger eventually.
It was a very rare sighting and I have never seen any other lions doing anything like it in 15 years of guiding, nor do I really expect to ever see it again.
I have no idea why these lions don’t have a dislike to the water like most lions do. The only theory I have it that for some reason the lioness learned to do it and then passed it on to the 2 males (they were her nephews which she had raised after their mother was killed and she was the last lioness of her pride, the Charleston Pride), which she had raised, and then onto her cubs as well as they were growing up.
It was a behavior that they uniquely had, but even so, it was not common to see.”