Tracking lions

Kruger National Park | June 2020

One weekend we went out and found the tracks of male lions. We decided to follow them because they were fresh and the chance of finding them was good as they were coming from Kruger side. We found the tracks at Nhuntlwa road heading towards the depression and so began what was one of most exciting trailing experiences that I have ever had in my career. During our trailing we come across some giraffe, zebras, wildebeest and other general game and could see where these males had tried to hunt some of them. We could see by the tracks where a male lion was chasing some zebras but after trying and failing the lions continued walking northwards. I think they were hunting the zebras opportunistically as they come across them, but their aim was to find the pride (the lionesses and the cubs).

Photo by Brian Rode

After trailing for about an hour and a half we starting seeing the tracks running and that’s where they must have joined up with the rest of the family. The tracks of them running indicated to us that there was excitement to greet the lioness. During these occasions they tend to rub heads as a form of social greeting and to keep renewing their bond. We tracked them for about 10 to 15 minutes from there before we found them across the drainage line where they were lying. Coman, one of our guides, spotted them but once he stopped and tried to show us where they were one lioness spotted him and she jumped to the side while she was growling and that caused the whole family to run in different directions. The dangerous part (or should I say exciting) is that the three cubs (approximately two months old) ran towards us! While Coman was leading the rest of the people to safety one cub kept coming towards us and I had to walk towards it to ward it off.  I waved my hand and at the same time saying, “Hay, hay, hay!” not loud but in a normal voice just for him to stop and think again, and it worked! The cub stopped, showed us its teeth for a second and then turned around very quickly towards mom. These few minutes standing in front of the lions felt like hours but was an excellent experience.