"Lion's Share" African Lion; 7"x 9" acrylic (private collection)
Bearhead later in the morning, still looking for the lionesses.  We found
them a short while later, as skinny as they had been the day before and we
later found his brother Beaver chewing on the skin and bones.  The
lionesses nonetheless greeted Bearhead with ample respect and affection.  
That was not true when Beaver finally returned to the pride.  The brotherly
love so obvious the day before was pointedly replaced with a sulking
demeanor.  I was trained as a biologist and am aware of the pitfalls of
anthropomorphizing but it was so clear that it would be silly to ignore.
"Brothers" African Lions; 11" x 14" acrylic on board (private collection)

The dominant males for a large territory and several prides on the Duba Plains of
the Okavango Delta, Botswana.  The researchers had named them Beaver and
Bearhead, with Bearhead the dominant of the two.  The affection they had for
each other was quite evident on this lazy winter morning.
"After Dinner Stroll" African Lion; 9"x 12" acrylic on board (private collection)

Bearhead looking for the lionesses after eating the entire lechwe (an aquatic antelope about
the size of a whitetail deer) that they had killed during the night.  In an evening of teenage
hilarity a couple friends of mine and I were coming up with titles for it such as "I Can't
Believe I Ate the Whole Thing", or "Why Do I Always Eat That Last Leg?" and "Plop Plop
Fizz Fizz", but I chickened  out and went with the more staid title above.
"Madikwe Mates" African Lions; 6" x 8" acrylic on board (private collection)
A mating pair in the Madikwe Game Preserve, South Africa.  We indelicately filmed
them mating and the female eventually gave a (happily) lazy charge to drive us off.  
This was the only aggression we saw from lions in the two weeks but it served to prove
that the big game rifle on the hood was mostly for show; had she meant business I
would have been brunch.  That experience, however, put me fatalistically at ease with
the Botswanan habit of carrying no defensive weapons at all
"Lion Lovers" African Lions; Madikwe Game Preserve
South Africa  6"x 8" acrylic on board (
private collection)

The same pair as above.  For general guidance; the look on the
female's face is how a lioness looks about a minute before she gets
really sick of you.
"Easy Pickings" Cheetahs, Okavango Delta Botswana
15"x 30" acrylic on board (private collection)

We had passed a herd of Impala shortly before spotting this mother and
cubs.  While stopped to watch her I noticed the wind was behind us and
suggested to the driver that if we backtracked we might see a hunt since she
had to scent the Impala.  Oddly enough it worked wonderfully (for us) and
we saw three stalks, the first two totally blown by the excited cubs.  On her
third approach, I sensed she was nervous about the cubs interference and
had the strong impression that she charged before she was really quite ready;
even a inexperienced predator like me could tell she didn't quite have the
jump necessary.  
We did see her at full speed for a second or two but she shut down the turbos quickly and came right over to us to recover, I guess since we were in the nearest available
shade.  After about 10 minutes she got up calling her cubs (a chirp of sorts) and moved off about 75 yards to nurse them.   They were disgustingly cute, oozing over her in
slow-motion tumbles and playing with each other, or chewing on her before settling down to nurse.  I did notice that she never relaxed though.  When lionesses nurse they
often sack out without a care in the world.  Not so for this Cheetah mother; lions and Hyenas were a real and constant threat.  She has a tough life.  On top of it all, there
was no Impala but the kids still needed to eat; hence the title of the piece.
"Gilding the Lilies" African Hippo, 16"x 27" acrylic on board (available)