The end of an eland

Pamushana | December 2017

Two territorial male lions had hunted and killed an eland, and dragged it into the thickets to feed. By the time we found the carcass the lions were as full as ticks, and lay about bloated in a post-feasting-frenzy-food-coma. As the afternoon sun settled into golden hour I focused on the graphic carcass, hoping one of the lions would start to feed again, but they didn’t – it was now the turn of the flies and maggots.

The next day we arrived early at the scene, and caught the two lions abandoning the carcass to the vultures. They dropped out of the trees where they’d been waiting for two days, and tore into the remains with great gusto and zeal.

A male lion can eat up to 43 kilograms (94 pounds) in a sitting, whereas a white-backed vulture can eat up to 1 kilogram (about 2 pounds) of meat in a single meal. I think it was an eland cow that was killed, and they weigh between 300 and 600 kilograms (661 – 1 322 pounds), so that is a lot of meat to feed all the creatures that ensure not a gram goes to waste.