The afternoon scene was set like that out of a movie. The dark clouds rising up and up with lightening striking the outskirts of the clouds like a faulty light bulb. The storm was near and rolling in from the west, the humidity was increasing every minute the storm continued to approach Sabi Sabi. Our safari plan was to try and relocate three Southern Pride lionesses that were seen crossing into Sabi Sabi while guests were enjoying their lunch near Bush Lodge.
As we set out the tracks of these three females were found and it was like reading a story that had been written in the sand. From looking at the tracks we could see where the females had been running up and down the road and where they had commenced stalking an animal. We could see where their back pads had been perfectly placed where their front feet had been, reducing the noise and adding to the excitement of a stalk. The lionesses had used the tree line for greater cover. Which animal we were unaware initially, but as we drove around the area where the tracks headed we found the tracks where a buffalo had sprinted away from the area, possibly trying to escape the incredible force of the Southern Pride lionesses. “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
The tracks then went into an area and didn’t come out of the bloc. Franscois and his tracker Zulu went in on foot and managed to find the lionesses sleeping in an open area. As I approached the weather was becoming more ominous and a few rain drops had started to fall on us in the vehicle, all prepared and looking good in our green ponchos. The lionesses had begun to wake up from their slumber and groom one another. The yawning increased and the social interaction between these magnificent cats began to increase. As this was happening it was like the storm had realised how special this was and almost completely dissipated with the sun shining and illuminating the scene.
We decided to go get a sundowner quickly and then if possible to re-join the lionesses and follow them on their nightly antics.
The power of the lionesses was incredible as we re-joined the sighting. They were walking down the road showing huge amount of power and determination, their shoulder blades moved up and down adding to the pure strength these females showed. We followed these lionesses for 20 minutes getting them to walk past the vehicle and follow them on their mission.
Suddenly all hell broke loose, branches broke, grass lay flat and the ground began to shake. This huge buffalo bull came flying out of the bushes and was on a mission to try and hit and potentially kill on the lionesses who ran for their lives. Was this the same buffalo that they had hunted earlier in the day? The lionesses regrouped on an open clearing and the buffalo disappeared into the night.
“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” – Ellen DeGeneres
We positioned to watch the lionesses just relax and recover from the shock of almost being hit by a buffalo bull. As we were watching this a Scrub Hare came out of a thicket and started to graze right next to my vehicle. The gap now between the Hare and lioness was 6 meters, the Hare continued to move around the vehicle and grazed 2 meters from my door. The lioness had detected this movement and with two leaps she jumped up and smacked the Hare on the back, immobilising it. She then quickly gave the fatal bite to the back of the head and walked off into the clearing with her prize. I will never forget this moment as it almost seemed that she was about to jump into the vehicle because the Hare was so close. What an incredible sighting, we watched her finish the Hare and then disappear off into the darkness of the night.
BY: STEVE VOLKWYN (BUSH LODGE RANGER)