Ginger and Garlic & The Punks

by Mary-Anne Bartlett on October 22, 2018

Many of you who have been to the Luangwa with Art Safari already know about Ginger and Garlic, the two dominant male lions of the Mfuwe area. 

We’ve known Garlic since he was a pale cub with white feet, and he’s now grown into a magnificent ginger adult, alongside his brother who was named Garlic as a fine companion to him.  Their pride had reached the splinter-point of more than 20 individuals, with a majority of male cubs though with many females, some with young, some pregnant.  Their battle with the Three Punks (three spikey-maned youngsters) from Nsefu has been on-going and terrible and, while we were there, resulted in Ginger and Garlic fleeing westwards downriver, leaving the Punks in power. 

Thankfully it would seem that the cubs are all safe.  Garlic and Ginger have been seen on some of the longer drives down to Chichele.  Meanwhile some of their younger females have defected and are now mating with the newcomers.  A new Mfuwe pride is established.

One of the Punks has a name. “Cut Throat” survived the trauma of a snare after the successful darting and removal by the veterinary team from Conservation South Luangwa only a week before I arrived back in the Valley.  I met Rachel, one of the team who removed it, she said his head had swollen so enormously.  Luckily the skin hadn’t broken, and there was no need for an anti-biotic.  Lions are amazing survivors. 

We saw and sketched him often. 

The lion lay on the river bank blinking occasionally as the carmine bee-eaters flew above him and into their burrows. 

Finding a sleeping lion on the first day of a safari is a gift – they tend to stay in one place for a while – so we all settled into our first sketches, looking at the line of his backbone, observing the way the huge paws crossed over each other, seeing the fullness of the extended stomach and noticing the bleached grasses caught in his still spikey mane.

Drawing and painting a large predator only metres from the vehicle is electrifying. It’s hard to control your own excitement and put the marks in the right place, you’re so awed by the experience. 

Suddenly, as lions do, he rolled over, all four paws in the air.  Shockingly he revealed a perfect pink scar around his neck, and I knew that this was the lion of recent social media posts – ‘Cut-Throat’.

 

 

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