There is little or no compassion in the animal world but this does not stop our emotional bonds with animals. It is foolish, often childish and in the case of giving animals puerile western names, misguided. However much of the time it is utterly understandable, particularly when cubs are involved. When you devote your days tracking an elusive dappled quarry and finally find it atop a granite penthouse, it raises the pulse like no other animal.
This particular protagonist: Nalangu ( proper Maasai name: ‘wanderer’) has been Mara North’s favourite daughter for many years and to find her with a young cub in rocks is A-list game viewing. To see her days later, her body battered and bloodied and her cub missing is upsetting even to the most reptilian pragmatic viewer. She had clearly lost a pitched battle with lions or hyenas or possibly both and in protecting her charge, appeared to have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
With chances of survival dropping quicker than a M&S share price, you can imagine the surprise when, several weeks later she appeared like a scarred-prize fighter with her cub in seemingly rude good health. A dozen Natural History aficionados who would all have given the thumbs down and have been wrong. Her future is unclear and she has used up some of her allotted lives, but reports of her name changing to Lazarus are of course exaggerated.