June 2021

Eventual success

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Eventual success

These lions had been giving our dedicated lion tracking team the run around. For days their tracks led the scouts on a wild goose chase up and down and round about a vast area strewn with rocky outcrops. Eventually we caught up with them in the far northern reaches of the reserve. They had hunted and killed a buffalo and had feasted on the spoils.

We got to them late afternoon and they had finished feeding for the time being. We sat in the vehicle and waited patiently on the other side of the donga from where they’d tripped up the buffalo and made the kill. After some time one of the mother’s gave a soft contact call. Five, ten, maybe twenty minutes later there was a little rustling and some movement in the grasses far away. Another call and another waiting period and then this little face appeared through the grass. It was very timid and probably one of the first times it had seen a vehicle and humans. It stayed very close to its mother and watched us intently.

The next morning we returned to the scene and were rewarded after the long drive before sunrise by seeing one of the lionesses feeding on the carcass. It was simultaneously spine-chilling and awesome to see her tear through the hide and bite into the beefy meat.

Interestingly the site of the kill which was well off-road was difficult to find the next morning. A large herd of buffalo, no doubt to which the victim had belonged, had moved through the area in the night. They must have stumbled on the lions and the carcass because the grass and vegetation was well trampled and churned up.

A buffalo of the size that was killed weighs about 800 kg. It would have fed the pride for quite a few days, after which they would rest a few days before hunting again.

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
Author / Guest Guide