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False Essential Namibia 18 Travel Namibia Etosha Etosha is a wildlife park like no other. On a reserve the size of The Netherlands, vast concentrations of game gather at water holes set on a glistening silver pan. It’s arguably the best place in Africa to view ‘ the Big Four’. Here award- winning photographers Steve and Ann Toon give their insiders’ tips for “ The Great White Place”. Inside Ivy’s playful cubs Ann and Steve Toon

False Travel Namibia 19 It’s late afternoon and the sun’s baking down on the chalk- white pan. We’re driving slowly, staring into the thorn bushes, past small groups of zebra resting bar- code heads on the backs of their neighbours. A foal spooks as we go by and moves closer to its mother. We spot a stallion rubbing his haunches on a termite mound, but don’t stop because we want to find Ivy. Ivy is a lioness. We’ve christened her Ivy because she has a brand mark on her flank that resembles the letters ‘ IV’. Brand marks have been used in the past by researchers to identify individual lions in this world- famous game reserve. Ivy also has four delightful, three month old cubs, and we’ve been lucky enough to track them down on several occasions. We first found them one morning on a zebra kill close to the road. Ivy was sharing the meal with other members of her pride and we marvelled at her strength as she dragged the carcass into the shade - the four hungry cubs eagerly tripping at her heels. Another pride lioness also had very small cubs and we guessed they wouldn’t be moving far. With so many to feed, and so much prey gathering on the plains, we reckoned everything these lions needed was right here on our doorstep. We were right. During the next few days we stumbled across them lolling around in the heat or enjoying a breakfast of fresh wildebeest. Once they crossed the road right next to our vehicle, warily keeping the smaller cubs close, no doubt en route to a favoured patch of shade to crash for the day. Of all the pride members, Ivy has captivated us most. Something about her assured manner suggests that she’s a seasoned and skilful lioness. We want to follow her fortunes further. This is one of the great things about Etosha, Namibia’s premier national park, and one