The Southern Pride has been in disarray for the last year as they have been split into two factions after the loss of one of the Kruger males. With a total of 16 different males all trying to take over the pride and the territory, the loss of countless cubs and the splitting of the pride, three of the lionesses were found in the morning sporting the signs of a small meal on their face. Sleeping and digesting their rest was rudely interrupted by 5 hyenas looking to see what scraps were left over.
The feud was loud and tense but neither side was willing to take the first step forward into a full-blown fight, as there was nothing left to fight over. The lionesses growled all around the vehicle as they stared intently at the hyenas that grouped closely and sounded there own war call. As quickly as it began the confrontation ended as the hyenas moved off and the lionesses quickly went back to sleep.
With new guests in the afternoon I waited for dusk and made my way to the lionesses that had not moved the whole day. The sleeping threesome looked far from movement but with patience we waited. The lionesses began to stir, yawn and stretch and before long they were up on their feet and moving.
They had not travelled very far when they got visual of the herd of impala. One of the females broke off and started to stalk as the other two stood and watched but the wind was wrong and the impala began to move off. It was time for a change in strategy. The three girls regrouped, rubbed heads as if they were trading ideas and then slowly moved through the darkness.
They knew exactly where the impala were and as soon as they got into position they again broke ranks and spread out and began to stalk. We killed the lights and waited. This is always the most exciting part of the hunt for me as my ears were twitching listening for the chaos to begin. But just like the lionesses I had to be patient. I explained the process to the guests and even in the darkness I could see the excitement on their faces.
We all listened intently for the thundering hooves that were going trample the dirt as soon as the lionesses gave chase. It was a good 20 minutes later and still there was no noise. Suddenly an alarm call rang out and the hooves hit the dirt as the herd tried to flee their hidden assailants. The Land Rover engine turned over as we made our way to where the chaos had begun to see if the lionesses had managed to make a kill. My tracker’s spotlight scanned the area and suddenly he flashed the light in a direction and shouted, “Go, go…” and we sped over to find the three lionesses fighting over a yearling male impala and he was being devoured at a rate that would leave any of us with severe indigestion. Not 5 minutes later they had consumed everything leaving nothing.
What an intense sighting and a crazy way for my first time guests to experience Africa. The chance to watch a small pride of lions go from sleeping, to grooming, to hunting and finally eating left all of us in a daze of excitement. The rest of the night was spent around the dinner table rehashing the experience over and over. What a night at the most amazing place in the world…Sabi Sabi!
BY: RICHARD DE GOUVEIA (BUSH LODGE RANGER)