24/7 WILD: Filming the Lone Lioness and Her Cub

Written by Kiri Cashell – Researcher, Masai Mara

Oh no here comes the rain again!!

When it rains in the Mara everyone knows about it – it doesn’t just rain, it pours! Not one day has passed without the team seeing the ominous sight of thick, black, storm clouds raging over the horizon, and as a consequence, I have spent most of my time being thrown around the back of a car, as we skid and slide our way around the Mara.

The rains have caused all manner of logistical nightmares – from getting our cars stuck in the mud to preventing our kit from arriving on time. In the end, it all becomes part of the adventure, but the real drama has begun with our wildlife.

Whilst driving back to camp recently, our driver spotted a mother lion and her cub playing on a fallen tree. We decided to drive closer to find out which pride they belonged to, but as we drew closer it soon dawned on us… they were totally alone. It was a lone female and her cub.

As we watched them nuzzle, play and interact with each other, everyone in the car fell under their spell, we were hooked.

Since that first encounter, we have spent every day with them, learning what extraordinary characters this pair really is.  The beautiful lioness; a tenacious, and determined mother, and the cub; a brave, endearing bundle of joy.

This time of year is hard for any lion, especially a single mother like our female. Food is scarce, and the lean frames of both mother and cub holds testament to this. Every day is a struggle for survival, and watching the remarkable bond this pair have, has meant the crew and I have invested a lot of emotional energy into caring about what happens to them.

Unlike pride lions our pair do not have the support and protection that pride living brings. Every other lion treats them like the enemy and they have to fend for themselves. This has meant that the cub is often left vulnerable and alone while mum leaves to hunt, and as she can’t take down big prey she has to hunt more frequently. Watching her hunt and search for food in the midday heat, panting and uncomfortable is often unbearable.

Today, we watched on tenterhooks as she patiently stalked a warthog, every fibre in our bodies willing for her to make the kill so she could feed herself and the cub. I surprised myself, often you react to watching a kill by feeling a little sorry for the prey, but today all I cared about was our mother and cub – I knew how desperately they needed to eat, and we really wanted her to make the kill.

As the light began to fade we returned back to camp exhausted, my body shaking with adrenaline. As I dragged myself back to my tent, I spotted a visitor who looked up excitedly as I approached, I felt a pang of guilt, it was Basil – the friendly camp warthog…


With more than 150 wildlife experts and filmmakers strategically positioned around the globe, 24/7 Wild will showcase real animals and their everyday fight for survival — as it happens, in real time. Each episode will focus on the babies of the animal world during the tumultuous spring month of May, when births are more common.  Tune in to 24/7 Wild: First Steps: Monday, May 7, at 9 p.m. et/pt. 


  1. Robyn
    Chicago il
    May 7, 2012, 8:44 pm

    Good idea for a show but between all the commercials and the narrators I think the is maybe a total of 20 minutes in the whole hour showing actual animals. Not very impressed hope next episode is better.

  2. Eli Bowen
    linwood pa.
    May 7, 2012, 9:01 pm

    Am watching the show now and the footage is incredable the show would be so much better if the host would point the cameras at the animals instead of themselves and just narrate the film about the animals. If this is how the show is formated this will be my last episode. The host seem more interested in their faces being on screen than a documentary on animals. Well it just ended and of the 60 minutes it was on there was approx 10 minutes of animal footage a lot of hype that led to a massive let down for the viewers

  3. Lynnette
    May 7, 2012, 9:10 pm

    AMAZING!!! Wish there was 24/7 live cam but then I would lose my job- so maybe not such a good idea.

  4. aj
    May 7, 2012, 9:52 pm

    Good job: 24/7: except:: WAY TCO MANY PEOPLE!! We want to see the animals! Check out any Attenborough commentary while not intruding on the story.

  5. Raksha
    May 8, 2012, 9:20 am

    I can’t believe they even left the studio at all with the way things sounded out there. Professionals should be a little more professional. They didn’t even TRY to check the weather report?!?! I know it’s the Sahara, but it isn’t always sunny.

  6. Aly
    May 8, 2012, 9:42 am

    Great idea. A great addition would be an app tracker so people could follow blog info or animal activity 24/7.

  7. Tiffane
    May 8, 2012, 9:49 am

    Deffinitely too many pepple being shown, this is an animal, show, please show more animals, less of people just talking, bring the talking into the commentary as you film more animals. At this rate we don’t get to see much of the animals 24-7. Love the idea of the show though, can’t wait to see how the lives of these gorgeous youngin’s play out and of course I’m yellling at the TV and cheering on the babies, especially when they get in danger. LOL Thanks NAT GEO WILD for taking the time, energy and resources to provide us with an amazing show!!! Just please show more of the animals and less of the people just talking to the camera. Thanks so much!!!

  8. jan
    United States
    May 8, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Great ideal for a show, I loved all the ANIMAL footage. Have to agree with everyone else, show more of them and less of the hosts. Also, why is the lioness alone? Any ideals on that would have been nice to know. Do they get pushed out of a pride for some reason? I kind of thought that happened to the males. I know you can’t say exactly, but thought would have been nice. Look forward to next episode!

  9. Carole
    May 9, 2012, 9:38 am

    Great show! I must agree with all the above comments – MORE ANIMALS – less talking and faces of the host. I too would like to know why the lioness is not with the pride?

  10. Ginny
    Deltona, Florida
    May 9, 2012, 6:35 pm

    I love this show, and animals better than most people! To answer a few questions about why the lioness is not with her pride. Many reasons, 2 main reasons are: More dominant lionesses may have been jealous of a male’s attention toward her and ran her out of the pride, or the rest of her pride could have been killed or murdered and she alone escaped. We’ll never know, but this does happen more often than we’d like to think.

  11. Ginny
    May 9, 2012, 7:02 pm

    It figures!

  12. Ron
    Montclair NJ
    May 14, 2012, 11:36 pm

    Great show. Love the footage of the animals with their babies. I agree…. More animal suits and less people. Great concept for a series and it probably just needs to develop. Keep up the good work!

  13. M
    May 16, 2012, 1:03 pm

    Is this really the only ‘extras’ to the show? They’re always talking about blogs and facebook and behind the scenes footage, but I come here and find 2 blog posts…and they don’t even have their own Facebook – definitely no behind the scenes footage. Am I just not able to find it? We should definitely have more interactive features online since they are only showing an hour of footage a week (and, agreeably, only about 20 minutes of animal footage). Maybe get your own Facebook and actually put up the behind the scenes footage like you say? Lots of pics (don’t edit, we like real, candid photos!) and videos if you can. Is this too much to ask? Enjoying the show so far! 🙂

  14. Sandee Sanchez-Sheridan
    Sylmar, California
    May 21, 2012, 4:50 pm

    I loved the show and I appreciated the comments from the experts. This shows how much of a struggle it is to survive in the wild for these beautiful cats. Fighting off pouchers and I cried when she left behind her baby….I was hoping the crew would of at least take the baby female to a sanctuary or a vet. That was so sad…hearing the mother moan and cry. I love all wild animals…Someday they will all be safe from humans.

  15. Greg
    May 21, 2012, 7:41 pm

    Please lose the humans. I just watched a man and a woman scratching their backs on trees, crawling on their hands and knees, mimicking the scenting process of the bears. I though the woman was going to urinate as well. It’s horrible. Why do you think we watch ANIMAL shows? It is NOT to watch idiot humans. An unseen narrator that explains the animal rituals is one thing. Every time I tune in and see the talking heads I move to another channel. Please keep the animals and lose the humans!

  16. Greg
    May 21, 2012, 8:17 pm

    Very disappointing that the very channel dedicated to wild animals has lost contact with the very reasons for its success. You have given wild animals names like Lucy and Doris and then inundated us with more humans on camera than animals. Some of the human scenes are pathetic. They could hardly be more uninteresting. We watch these shows for our interest in the animals. If we wanted to watch humans crawling around in the wilderness we would watch Survivor or some other such show. This is by far the poorest offering that I have ever seen from the venerable National Geographic. The blogs are replete with opinions similar to this. Please get rid of the humans. Instead of a show about animals you have produced a show about humans talking about and acting like animals. I just switched channels from 24/7 Wild to a baseball game. You see if I am going to watch humans, I will watch them doing human things. Watching this woman crawling around behind an older gentleman, both on their hands and knees, mimicing bear scenting rituals, which included them rubbing small bushes between their legs to clean their genital areas was absolutely disgusting. I changed channels when the woman mentioned urinating for fear she would reinact this too. I know you will not publish this but please think about it before you delete it. This show is a joke. I have always had the utmost respect and appreciation for the wonderful offerings of National Geographic. This show is an embarrassment.

  17. Linda
    Palm Harbor, florida
    May 22, 2012, 7:18 am

    I just love the show…for me, I very much loved watching the people as well….My only comment is: I think the viewer will miss getting to know what happens after this week as most of us watching have probably developed the strong “human” bond of affection for these babies. Just loved the new footage of the newest elephant baby last night. I also came on this site hoping to find some extra up- to-the-moment photos. Whatevery happened to the baby whales…it might be nice to follow some of the ones who survived the perilous journey.

  18. Erykah
    kernersville, NC
    May 22, 2012, 7:15 pm

    I love the show, only exception the commercials and not enuff showing of the animals. The narriator can talk while showing animals and less of himself.

  19. Jeff
    Alpharetta, GA
    May 23, 2012, 9:58 am

    Show is a little disappointing like many of the new NAT GEO Wild shows. The focus on the feelings of the announcers is ridiculous. Who cares what they think? They are obviously trying too hard, when they say that they matched the lioness based on the whiskers/spots? Look again, they most certainly did not match (weren’t really close) and was not the same animal. Too bad, I think they are getting thin with their talent and the productions are suffering, as with television in general.

  20. Deanna
    San Diego, CA
    May 24, 2012, 10:11 pm

    I got frustrated with all the commercials, etc., so I record the shows and play them back without the commercials.

  21. Ice
    May 27, 2012, 1:48 pm

    I too, agree w/Deanna I did the same thing.24/7 Wild was/is Awesome I will miss all the little ones. Hopefully there will be a season 2,3,4,etc follow-up…Maybe there will be grant money.Great job NatGeo!!!!

  22. Paula
    Woodstock, IL
    May 27, 2012, 7:05 pm

    I too recorded it much better 🙂

  23. Tania
    New Orleans
    May 27, 2012, 10:15 pm

    Okay I think I saw but 5 mintues at the end…. was the cub injured??? did she leave him alone to die??? Im still thinking about this….. what happens to this cub??? Thanks

  24. HC
    May 28, 2012, 2:11 am

    For those of us who sorely miss and ache for the return of the BBC Big Cat Diary and Big Cat Week, NatGeo had such an amazing opportunity to fill that void with a show like this one and so badly FAILED. How on earth could you have made the show with so little animals and so much people?! This is not a Crocodile Hunter type of exhibition.

  25. Quannecia
    May 28, 2012, 6:41 pm

    I love the stories but i feel that there were too many stories to cover in such a short time. I feel like between the commercials and the host you did not get to see a lot of the animals and enjoy the show. The Lioness story was incredible and i wish it could continue……. Gremlin, and the meerkat were also great stories and i wish to had seen more of the whales and elephants….. 4/5 episodes also wasnt enough :/

  26. Samantha
    New York
    June 19, 2012, 12:49 pm

    I loved the show! But there was alot to learn in such a short time and there were alot of commercials.I cant wait for the show to come back on!!

  27. […] Photo Credit: National Geographic […]