I had a good feeling the Southern Pride was going to be around after hearing them fight just east of the boundary the previous morning. We set off south looking for tracks of the pride, with my tracker Eric’s right hand shooting up I hit the brakes. Tracks of the pride, going in the opposite direction to us, we turned around and locked onto the shapes in the sand. We followed them for about 45 minutes and being the only vehicle in the area had the pleasure of seeing every step unfold before us.
Finding more visible tracks after a very difficult area of tracking, we had renewed excitement as we knew we were still getting warmer. Driving up a slight slope, we approached the crest and as we peeped over the top we saw them, dark, their coats tainted by the mix of blood and stomach contents of their latest meal, a massive buffalo bull. Excitement boomed and camera shutters rattled. The kill was only a few hours old and there was still a huge amount of fighting happening between the pride over the best pieces of meat. We enjoyed our time with them and there were smiles all round but time was at least for that set of guests, I was getting new guests and had planned to go back that afternoon.
With new guests on board we started our safari on course for some of the more ominous looking clouds I have ever seen but that was in the direction of the lions and that is where we were headed. We had to take cover from a massive downpour for a while but we eventually made it to where the lions had their kill. As we slowly approached the rain had slowly started again.
The engine of the Land Rover finally quietened and we found ourselves in one of the most incredible scenes I have been lucky enough to be a part of. The golden light of the setting sun was forcing its way through a gap in the clouds while the rain was still falling from the south. Next to us was one of the biggest prides in the region feasting on a once formidable buffalo bull. The meat was starting to run out and tensions were running high. With every bout of aggression between pride members, a type of sound would be generated that could be felt through the floor panels of the Land Rover. The Kruger male did not hold back as he asserted his dominance. Looking up, a vibrant double rainbow bent overhead as a majestic old Knob-thorn tree stood almost unfazed by the happenings beneath it.
On the way back to Bush Lodge, the huge contrasts we had just witnessed came to mind, the rain and shine as well as the life and death cycles of the bush. If in that short space of time so much action had taken place, I tried to imagine how much that old Knob-thorn tree had seen over the years…