Dazed by the heat

Sabi Sand | November 2020

The temperature started to cool down, which made it the perfect time to join the Mhangeni Pride resting next to one of our prominent waterholes, in the central part of Ravenscourt. On our arrival, all the large females and their five young cubs were lazily grooming each other and showed no interest in our presence.

As golden hour progressed the cubs started to move about, playing with each other, and nursing whenever their mothers didn’t growl or snarl at them!

Fifteen minutes later and the unimaginable happened… A white rhino and her calf approached the waterhole from the other side. They stopped, looked at us and raised their heads, making us believe they had caught scent of the pride. Within a few second a young male spotted hyena also entered the scene and walked towards the waterhole in front of the rhinos!

Thinking that the hyena would see the pride and take note of our presence, he continued walking to the water’s edge out of our view. One lioness immediately showed interest and started walking to the hyenas’ position! The rest of the pride noticed that there was now movement from one of their members and flipped over to watch. A minute went by and then the entire pride got up and followed suit.

It all erupted as the lioness gave chase to the hyena, the rhinos fled and the hyena ran into the water from the northern side! In the water the hyena was now being stopped of an escape route as it tried to get away and then decided to make its way out where it entered. This was a mistake, because now the rest of the pride was waiting on the same side and things looked dim for the scavenger.

The hyena, vocal as ever, gave a yelping cry as it ran between the lionesses and over the side of the waterhole, with four lionesses chasing after him! We manoeuvred away from the southern side of the waterhole and came around to find the lionesses had caught the unlucky hyena on the edge of a dry mud wallow. One lioness was suffocating the hyena at its neck and another lioness had bitten into its back and then proceeded to open it up by its groin.

The lioness that initiated the entire stalk, returned to the remaining lionesses and cubs and led them back to our position. This was really interesting because it showed that lionesses teach their cubs from a young age how to deal with their nemesis and the importance of taking advantage when numbers are in your favour!