October 2023

Right place, right time, but not for the impala

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Right place, right time, but not for the impala

Right place, right time, but not for the impala

We’d been watching a pack of African wild dogs wake from their afternoon snooze, chase each other in circles, and then set off in a line to go and hunt along the river banks. Unable to follow them we headed towards the river for a sundowner, only to pass our ecology team returning from their research on the other side of the river. They happened to mention to look out for two lionesses sleeping on the river bank. We found them soon enough, an adult and sub-adult, and indeed they were fast asleep, not facing us – just flat strips of gold in the red late afternoon light. With the light so exquisite I set up my camera and fired off a few shots, just because. But then, for no apparent reason, the adult lioness sat bolt upright, took a step forward, every muscle loaded, her eyes and ears zeroed in. What happened next was over in a millisecond. An impala, no doubt flushed by the hunting wild dogs and sprinting away for its life, raced directly into the claws and jaws of the two lions. I don’t think the sub-adult lioness had even stood up yet. They both had the impala in a deadly neck hold quickly asphyxiating the life from it, before the adult let go to give us a warning snarl while the sub-adult guaranteed death.

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
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