113. It’s Mother’s Day

In recognition of Mother’s Day, National Geographic posted twenty-one photos of Beautiful Moments Between Animal Mothers and Their Babies in their Photo Gallery. Included with each photo was a short explanation of some of the more unique and varying mothering methods found in the animal kingdom.

“Every animal can thank a mom for making life possible,” writes the author.
“Some mothers lay eggs, in treetops or on the seafloor, while others labor through long pregnancies and live births. Many moms are on their own, but a fortunate few get help from babysitters or nursemaids. Mother-child bonding runs the gamut of relationship styles.”

Among the twenty-one animals featured in the photo gallery, five live on African soil.

And despite the heart-warming topic, not all the photos conjure up warm and cuddly thoughts.

Source: National Geographic, Photography by Zssd, Miden Picture



Emperor scorpion mothers give birth to an average of nine to 32 fully formed young. Here, an emperor scorpion, one of the world’s largest scorpions, carries her immature offspring on her back.


Source: National Geographic, photography by Nichols, Nat Geo Image Collection



Lion moms may live with their daughters for life. The African lions live in prides dominated by related females, like this cub-wrangling mom in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.


Source: National Geographic, photography by Frans Lanting, Nat Geo Image Collection



During the early weeks of her cubs’ lives, the mother must move them every few days to avoid predators. If all goes well, cheetah siblings stay with their mom for about a year and a half, learning to hunt.
Some cheetahs are supermoms, not only raising their own young but fostering the cubs of others.


Source: National Geographic, photography by Zssd, Miden Pictures



Hippo calves are often born underwater. It’s up to Mom to push her calf to the surface to take its first breath.

Mothers are fiercely protective of their young, but they also have a softer side, cleaning and doting on their calves. If its baby dies, mothers even display what some scientists interpret as grief.


Source: National Geographic, photography by Madelaine Castles, Nat Geo Image Collection



Giraffe calves stand within 30 minutes of birth. It’s critical that they do so, as newborn calves are a favorite meal of many African predators.
Before they are born, mom has to endure a 15-month pregnancy, which allows for the development of a six-foot-tall baby with strong muscles and nervous system.

109. The King of the Jungle Doesn’t Live in the Jungle – And Other Facts You Probably Already Know About Lions


Lions live in grasslands and plains.
They do not live in the jungle.


The lion is the only member of the cat family that displays obvious markings (its mane) that distinguish the male from the female.
A male’s mane grows darker as it ages.  Female lions prefer males with fuller, thicker, darker manes.

The roar of a lion can be heard from 5 miles away.
Lions use their roar as a form of communication. It identifies individuals, strengthens the pride’s bond, and lets other animals know of the pride’s domain.


A new-born lion has dark spots,
which fade as the cub reaches adulthood


Daughters stay with their mothers for life and may eventually have their own cubs. Sons will leave the pride at maturity in search of a pride of their own.

Unlike most other cat species, lions live in large groups called prides. A pride consists of multiple related females, their dependent offspring and two or three unrelated males. In the wild, lions rest for around 20 hours a day.

Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters.
The males are first to eat when the female lions return with their kill.
The kill is not shared equally within a pride, and at times of prey scarcity, cubs might experience higher mortality rates as hungry females may not even share with their offspring.
A pride isn’t formed primarily for catching dinner or sharing parenting chores. They also need each other to ward off the dangerous advances of other lions.



A tuft at the end of the tail is a distinct characteristic of the lion.

African Lions May Be Extinct by 2050.

African lions may be facing extinction by the year 2050. The reason for the decline of the king of beasts can be summed up in one word: people. As more East Africans take up farming and ranching, they push farther into lion country.
In just two decades, populations decreased by 43 percent. It’s estimated that as few as 23,000 remain today.

35. Sir Carl L. and The Big Five

The Big Five

These guys are at the top of every visitor’s Must-see Safari List. Travel books will tell you when and where to find them, and why these five animals carry the Big Five moniker.

Hippos aren’t on the list, and they’re bigger than the lions and leopards who are listed.


Giraffes, the tallest animals in the world, aren’t included either.


The large Kudu Antelope was snubbed as well.


So what gives?


The term “Big Five” was coined by game hunters in the late 1800s.
It refers to Africa’s five most challenging and dangerous animals to hunt on foot.
Nowadays the term is used by safari guides and game reserves, both public and private, to entice visitors to use their facilities. “Come visit our reserve and you will see all five of Africa’s most touted mammals. Prepare to be awestruck”

Want to be able to list the names of The Big Five in rapid fire order? Just think of that recently knighted zoologist and endangered species specialist, Sir Carl L.

C – cape buffalo
A – African elephant
R – rhinoceros
L – lion
L – leopard

We’ll begin to examine one or two of The Big Five in later posts.

13. Born Free

Meru National Park is about 200 miles north east of Nairobi.
We have a 3-day safari planned in Meru.

Meru National Park is where Joy and George Adamson reintroduced their beloved lioness Elsa back into the wild. The Adamsons wrote a book about their experience which was made into the feature film Born Free.

Rented Born Free on Amazon Video last night.
The first time I saw it (which was also the last time) was in 1966, when it was originally released.
I haven’t read Born Free, but I understand the film is a decent adaptation of the book.