By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung
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Some say Happy Mother’s Day with a hug and in the case of this little lion cub, with a sweet kiss.
Captured on camera by operations manager Alex Blair in Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti the stunning pictures show a pride of lions interacting with one and other as the young cubs play.
The London based photographer said: “The cubs were relentlessly playful and it was interesting to watch the different lionesses taking their turn at keeping the cubs entertained and letting the others rest.
“In this way it was impossible to tell which cubs belonged to which lioness, it was just one large pride all working together.
"The male lion in the pride kept his distance the entire time though with a watchful eye."
Keeping a safe distance of between 20 - 40 yards, Alex encountered the lion pride on the mounds of the Serengeti in Tanzania.
He said: “There were around 14 or so cubs and five lionesses.
“We found them at the mounds and spent a couple of hours watching them interact.”
Alex and his team had to set off as early as possible to get into the crater at first light.
He said: “Our guide led us to this spot where they dig up the ground to maintain the roads. The effect is a number of mounds which the lions are attracted to as it gives them the advantage of high ground and lets them look out over the crater.”
Lionesses stay within the pride all their lives but male lions either leave of their own accord or are driven off by the pride males at two to three years of age.
African male lions generally play no paternal role when it comes to provisioning of food to the cubs.
The responsibility for training them to hunt is also that of the mother.
For the 28-year-old the encounter was undoubtedly special and a once in a life-time opportunity.
Alex said: “It was special because of the proximity to the lions and the surrounding peace. They were very unbothered by us initially meaning we could watch them without them changing their behaviour.
“Often images are taken during the dry season but seeing the lions in contract to the green is much more rewarding as a photographer.”
To see more of Alex’s incredible photography, visit his Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/alex_blair_photography/