By Aimee Braniff Cree
ADORABLE images of lion cubs turning a fallen tree into a playground have been captured.
One image shows a lion cub napping peacefully in the tree while others play around them.
Another image shows all the cubs lined up on the tree branch all looking for mischief.
A sweet capture shows two of the cubs laying next to each other gently touching paws.
These stunning images were captured by Ross Couper (47), a content creator for Singita at Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa.
Ross took the images on his Nikon D850 camera, along with a 600mm f/4 lens. He is extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife around him.
“Lions don’t usually climb trees, however when they do, they are not well-balanced and a bit clumsy,” said Ross.
“Lion cubs, being smaller and lighter, often find climbing a little easier. Generally, it’s their curiosity and playfulness that drives them to climb when they find an elevated point of interest.
“Based on the cub’s behavior I presumed that the lionesses were lying in the grass nearby.
“However, after viewing the antics for a short time, it was evident that the cubs were merely enjoying the playtime and the peer pressure of climbing onto a fallen tree which
resulted in a unique photographic opportunity, as the cubs aligned themselves along the tree trunk.
“With no adult lions present, we left the sighting, where the cubs were sleeping in the tree stump, awaiting the pride’s return.
“Curiosity amongst young wild animals is always a highlight whilst on safari. Lions in wild will not always lay in open grasslands awaiting guests to photograph them, however some days you are lucky.”
Pride life in Singita is changing and Ross is an experienced photographer who always puts the safety and respect for the wildlife ahead of his captures.
“The lion dynamics in the Singita Sabi Sand region have recently changed. A change in dominant male is always important to the survival of the species, as new male lions venture into an area their priority is to immediately mate with the lionesses,” said Ross.
“On this occasion, I was using a long telephoto lens. The purpose of using a long lens enabled lions to feel comfortable with our presence and thus they continued with their natural behavior completely oblivious.
“This is core to the Singita ethos. Once we have viewed the lions on a more regular occurrence, we will venture closer to the lions and within time, the lions will pay no attention to the safari vehicles at all, as they become accustomed to the vehicles and noises.
“Due to the diligence of responsible safari operators in this area, and strict protocols in private concessions, many guests are surprised how comfortable the lions become with our presence after several years of encountering the lion pride.
“I’m often told that my photographs have a distinct emotional connection. With millions of wildlife images on the internet, there must be a standout, noticeable connection through a continuous thread of imagery, especially for the Singita brand. I have been fortunate to draw on my artistic view and often this has been a base for many of my images.”
Conservation of these majestic animals is what is most important to Ross and everyone at Singita
“I started my career at Singita as a guide almost ten years ago. During my leave cycles, I started producing marketing content for Singita,” said Ross.
“With more practice and a deeper understanding of my environment, my photography improved, and I was able to explore new genres of photography and started capturing food plating, or room interiors, as the requirement from the Singita Marketing Department grew. I slowly transitioned into the Singita marketing team whilst still guiding.
“I moved into a full-time position in 2020, teaming up with my wife, Lindsay, as Content Creators for the brand.
“Photography allows us to share the natural beauty we encounter at Singita along with the uniqueness of the lodges. I can share my experiences visually to entice international travelers and inspire them to want to save Africa’s threatened wildlife
“Wild lion populations have declined by half in just 25 years. Lions are in a quiet, yet violent crisis. A revered predator that once roamed across much of Africa has fallen victim to complex threats that are dramatically increasing as human population growth and development rise across Africa.
“Within Africa, the species has suffered a steep decline in both range and numbers. A century ago there were 200,000 lions, today there are likely just over 20,000.
“Southern and East African lions are listed as being vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List, though the West African sub-species is considered to be Critically Endangered. Please support NGO, Lion recovery Fund https://donate.wildnet.org/lion-recovery-fund
“Singita employs an anti-poaching unit that is active 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to deter illegal poaching.”
If you want to help Sagita in their mission to protect wildlife you can visit the lion recovery fund https://www.lionrecoveryfund.org/threats-to-lions/