Meet the Last Lions of Duba Plains

by Sandy Salle on April 4, 2013

Post image for Meet the Last Lions of Duba Plains

My recent adventures to Africa brought me to the breathtaking Duba Plains of Botswana where I witnessed some of the most spectacular game on the continent. From buffalo to elephants, and crocodiles to hippos, Duba Plains is a majestic haven for thousands of birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, and amphibians. And although these sightings were absolutely brilliant, the highlight of the trip was witnessing the two Duba Plains lion prides (they’ve actually split into 3 groups recently).

During the days we would witness nature at its most raw as lioness hunted for their next meal and to protect their cubs from the perils of nature. The common theme we witnessed during our game-viewing adventures was an overall sense of “survival.”

Botswana’s Duba Plains and Okavango Delta are so famous for their lion populations, that National Geographic spotlighted The Last Lions, an epic documentary film produced in the Duba Plains area by the famous filmmakers, Dereck and Beverly Joubert. In the film, Dereck and Beverly follow Ma di Tau (“Mother of Lions”), a lioness who will do anything in her power to keep her cubs safe and alive. During our adventures to Duba Plains we were lucky enough to see Ma di Tau and her cubs!!

Ma di Tau is such an amazing warrior and be able to see her in the wild was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in the bush. In the film, Ma di Tau’s bravery is tested as she travels across the Botswana plains in search of food and away from Silver Eye, a lioness who kills cubs. We were unable to see Silver Eye during our travels through Duba Plains, as her and her pride were on Paradise Island where a huge group of buffalo fled to.

Below are some pictures I took while in Duba Plains:

Botswana honeymoon safari

Botswana family safari

Botswana family safari

Botswana family safari

Botswana family safari

Botswana family safari

Botswana family safari

trip to Botswana

trip to Botswana

trip to Botswana

trip to Botswana

Our guide (who was commonly referred to as James 007 for his fantastic guiding skills!) was absolutely brilliant. He shared with us all of the dangers that the lions face, as well as stories of survival. He was actually with the Jouberts during their filming of The Last Lionsso he was able to provide us with fascinating behind-the-scenes details!

The core purpose of the film and the inspiration behind its creation was to introduce the world to the plight of the lions. Today, lion populations have decreased by the THOUSANDS since the 1960s and there are approximately 20,000 of these creatures left in the wild (compared to the 450,000 we saw in the 60s).

You can help in saving the last lions by simply watching The Last Lions trailer on YouTube. For each viewing, National Geographic will donate $0.10 to the cause until 1,000,000 views are reached (we have half a million views to go until we reach a million!). Click here to view the trailer.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Africa Inside April 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm

The photos you took are amazing. What cause or organization is National Geo donating the money to?
Thanks for sharing your wonderful adventure in Duba Plains.

Mrs Hema Desai April 10, 2013 at 10:29 am

Brillinat update of Ma di Tau..Thank you.

Linda Jane O'Brien April 10, 2013 at 11:24 am

I donate regularly to the Big Cat Initative. Since I saw The Last Lions, there isn’t a single day that goes by when I don’t think of Ma di Tau and her surviving male cub. I was dying for news of her, worrying so often of whether they survived or not, beating the unbeatable odds they face each day just to survive. This news truly warms the heart. May nature and God protect her and her new litter. I wish the Jouberts would make a follow up movie about Ma di Tau.

Mirjana April 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I am so overwhelmed with this update! Thank you so much! I was wondering what’s happening with this beautiful lioness…Share more news, please!

Sandy Salle April 11, 2013 at 10:05 am

Mirjana, thanks for the comment. Ma di Tau is doing well with her cubs 🙂 It was so unbelievable to see them in real life as opposed to the television. I hope to go back soon to see her and will of course give an update when I do!!!



Sandy Salle April 11, 2013 at 10:09 am

Linda, thanks for the comment, and yes, I can say from what I saw Ma di Tau is doing well but continues to struggle for survival. I was truly honored to be able to witness her in the wild and look forward to going back to check on her in the future!

Gloria Stevens July 7, 2013 at 4:34 am

The last lions is an amazing documentary.. I’ve watched it over and over, and I still cry every time. To actually be able to see mau di ta in real life is awesome.. Your pictures are wonderful .. Keep us up with whats going on..thank you.. Cause an uproar.. 🙂

Sandy Salle July 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

Aww thank you Gloria! Isn’t the movie truly spectacular? I cannot wait to go back there! 🙂

Joseph January 5, 2014 at 1:50 am

Hey, thanks for the update of Ma di tau, it’s nice to hear news from her since i knew her survival story in the documentary, i wish the best for her and her new cubs. Nice blog by the way 🙂

Lynn January 13, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Thank you for the update on Ma di Tau so glad to hear she is still alive!! She is an amazing lioness!! and beautiful!!

Sandy Salle January 14, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Lynn, I would love to go back to see Ma di Tau soon! What a beautiful lioness. Truly one of the most rewarding safaris I have ever been on and look forward to the next time I can see her. 🙂 -Sandy

czarina September 8, 2014 at 5:45 pm

I just watched “The Last Lions last night in NAT GEO and was at first hesitant because I knew at some point some of the cubs will die (usually happens in a lot of documentary)- BUT I’m really glad that I watch until the end as there was just so much emotions when the documentary climaxed during the fight with the Bull. Thank you so much for blogging your experience in Bostwana. I was just in Kenya last month and I saw one of Zawadi’s (a.k.a. Shadow the Leopard int the Big Cat Diaries series ) son – in his prime and looking beautiful. I just leaped with excite so I am sure you must have been sooooo ecstatic to see her alive and well – to have that sense of connection!!! thanks again!!!

Sandy Salle September 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Czarina, so glad you enjoyed the blog post and the documentary! It truly is an incredible and beautiful story. Cannot wait to return to Botswana!

Kit Goodwin December 5, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Has Ma Di Tau’s little male joined any other bachelors, or is he living single?

Sandy Salle December 8, 2014 at 11:12 am

Kit, not sure as of now! I haven’t yet heard an update about Ma Di Tau, but plan on visiting her again soon and will keep you posted!

carol May 21, 2015 at 9:28 am

may God bless maditau

Erika October 11, 2016 at 4:22 am

Beautiful film….watched it the second time already! Does anyone know what happened to her last remaining cub? Was he able to survive and defend against other prides?

Sandy Salle November 5, 2016 at 10:59 am

Hi Erika – we are pretty certain that the cub is doing well. Amy was just in Botswana at Duba again, and had a magical time. Enjoy our latest blog on Duba Plains

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