This is the heart-warming moment after her sister died, a lioness adopted her orphaned cubs.
In August 2016, the seven cubs were born to two sisters from the same pride at the same time.
But disaster struck in January when one of the mothers unexpectedly died from a virus when the cubs were just four months old, leaving her litter orphaned.
The 10-year-old sisters maternal instincts quickly kicked in, and she began rearing all seven cubs as her own while remaining in charge of feeding and protecting them.
Mike Sutherland, a private Safari Architects guide in South Africa, took the new adorable family’s photographs two weeks ago at the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve.
“This was a fantastic morning with great interaction in the pride,” Mike said.
“Unrelated males will kill young lions, especially new dominant males that enter a territory.
But thankfully, lionesses in the same pride try to synchronize their breeding, and females will treat all similar-age cubs as their own, especially when they’re sisters.
They’ll take care of them, nurse them, hunt for them, defend them, groom them, and watch over them. In this pride, it meant that one female was now left to raise seven juvenile cubs on her own due to instinct and focus on the future of the pride.
“The pride had just eaten a kill the night before, and they were on their way to a water hole to quench their thirst.
“With full bellies, these cubs were boisterous and mischievous the entire morning,” which is also a method by which these young lions hone their hunting skills for later in life when they will need to stalk, chase and hunt their own food.
“The lioness has shown that she is able to hunt and care for all seven of her cubs. Therefore this should be a happy ending.”