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A Day In The Field

A short story

By Erin O'NeilPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
A Day In The Field
Photo by Charl Durand on Unsplash

My alarm went off at 6am that morning. I quickly got out of bed, got dressed, and made my way to the camp dining tent. We were right in the middle of Shaba National Reserve. We were on a five day trip to study the two lion prides living in the area.

Having finished our breakfasts, my professor called for our attention. “Okay, today we will be studying Pride A. Before we head out, I want to review the last set of observations.” He pointed to Marcus. “How many lions are in this pride?”

Marcus looked over his information binder before responding. “Well, there are two males, five females, and five cubs.”

“And what relationships should we expect to see?” Professor Spencer asked.

“Well, three cubs are from Johari, and the other two are from Nuru.” Marcus looked at his binder again. “Johari and Nuru are sisters. Their mother is Abla, and her sister is Tulia. The fifth female is Zuri, Tulia’s daughter.”

“Good. Should we expect to see the two males? Diane?” The professor looked at me.

“No. Chances are they’ll be away, patrolling their territory.”

“Very good. Gather your things, it’s time to move out.”

We packed ourselves into the Jeep and drove towards Pride A’s territory. After about twenty minutes, we spotted them on an outcropping of rocks. We stopped about two hundred feet away.

“First things first, identification.” The professor said.

Marcus and I opened our binders to our identification sections. I picked up my binoculars and started scanning the pride, looking for one to start with. I spotted two females sunbathing on a large rock. I increased the magnification on my binoculars, looking at their whisker spots and ear tears.

“I’ve got Abla and Tulia on a rock in the sun.” I said.

“I can see Nuru and her two cubs on another rock.” Marcus added.

I panned across the open field with my binoculars, and spotted them about thirty feet away from Abla and Tulia.

“Uh, professor, could you look at this?” Marcus handed his binoculars to the professor, and directed him to look under a tree not too far from Nuru and her cubs.

I used my own binoculars to get a better look. Immediately, I could see why Marcus wanted to show the professor what he’d seen. Sitting under the tree were three females and six cubs. That was one more lioness and three more cubs than there should have been.

“When were those last observations taken?” I asked, flipping through my binder.

“About five weeks ago.” Marcus replied.

I kept flipping until I found what I was looking for: family trees. I traced the lines connecting the lions of Pride A.

“That’s Imara, Zuri’s sister.” I showed them the page. “And those must be her cubs.”

“Of course. If they were born in the last few months, she would have been keeping them away from the rest of the pride.” Marcus started to look as excited as I felt. “That’s why she wasn’t mentioned in the last set of observations.”

“We’re the first people to see these new cubs!” I exclaimed.

I quickly flipped to an empty page to make notes on what we’d seen.

June 15th: 7:20am - observing Pride A, counted six females and eight cubs. Imara returned after missing from last observation. New cubs I1, I2, and I3.

“I know this is only day one of our trip, but I’m not sure anything can top how cool this is.” Marcus was beaming from ear to ear, watching the new cubs interact with other members of the pride.

wild animals

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Erin O'Neil

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    Erin O'NeilWritten by Erin O'Neil

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