Sabi Sabi yesterday, today, tomorrow

the lions take on a herd of buffalo and lose!

by Richard de Gouveia on March 24, 2012

The last few days have just been amazing. The Ellis family have been with me for the past 2 days and are having the time of their lives. We have seen so much in such a short space of time that it has become a little ridiculous. Last night our drive ended with us watching the Southern Pride as they groomed themselves before heading off on their evening hunt and the plan for the next morning was to take it easy and look at the small things, but sometimes plans go pear shape.

Lions at night-2

Lions at night

As we left for safari the guys had already found the Kruger male lions resting on an open area and my plan was to show the guests these amazing lions before heading down to our southern section to have coffee on the Sabi River. It was about 8am after we left the lions and far too late to head to the river so I changed the plan and decided to see what else we could find. Little did I know that it was about to get crazy.

Kruger male lion 5

As we bumbled along we picked up tracks of a female leopard and before we knew it she was strolling along the road, marking territory as she went along. We followed her as she left the road and started to go cross country, Solly led the way by pointing out the best route, I followed his instructions missing all the obstacles and the guests were left ducking out of the path of the on coming branches. After a while she decided on a road less travelled and this was a road that not even our safari vehicles could follow so we left her to her business and moved along.

Female leopard 2

We hadn’t driven 200 metres when we drove into the front end of a huge herd of buffalo. We sat and watched as the procession of buffalo just kept streaming past us. We followed them for a while and were about to leave the sighting when we realised that they were heading towards the Southern Pride. The first thing I did was turn around and explain the situation to the guests and ask if they were happy to stay out longer and have breakfast a little late, but the look on their faces basically said “why would you even ask such a silly question”.

Buffalo herd

Excitedly we followed the buffalo for a bit and then decided it would be best to wait with the lions. By the time we got to the lions they were up and sniffing the air as they could smell their buffet breakfast moving closer. As we followed them along the road and then into the bush there was an air of anticipation. It was only then that we saw the buffalo moving straight towards the lions. Everyone was quiet, adrenalin pumping through our veins as we watched the lioness crouch low and then suddenly burst out of the bush towards the buffalo sending them stampeding in the opposite direction. We crashed through the bush trying to keep up with the chase and eventually came to where the stand-off began.

The buffalo knew that the lions had lost the momentum and turned to chase them off. The lions ran straight past our vehicle and the angry buffalo surrounded us as they went after their foes. The next thing we knew, another lioness attacked from another side sending yet another group stampeding full speed toward the front of our vehicle, only turning away at the last second. The smell of buffalo filled the nostrils, the sound of grunting and snorting filled the ears and everyone was afraid to blink just in case they missed anything. Eventually the lionesses gave up and went to cool down and catch their breath in the shade and prepare for another assault on the herd. We will wait to see what happens on the next drive. What a crazy morning!

Buffalo running

 by: Richard de Gouveia (Little Bush Camp ranger)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

syl March 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Wowser….great blog. I was holding my breath as they ran towards the jeep.

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ranger rich March 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm

It was even more amazing to see it in person! How cool was the shot Solly took by mistake of his feet?

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doris charles March 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Well I hope the buffs got away and moved on and lost the lions lol, the lion will have to be grazer or browser for awhile, that’s for the blog and pictures they were super Richard.

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ranger rich March 25, 2012 at 5:31 pm

The buff are long gone and it seems that the lions were a little afraid to take them on again after they got chased.

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frank March 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Wow! Thats an amazing video. Frank

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ranger rich March 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Thanks so much Frank!

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ranger-in-training, laela March 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm

That was an amazing experience, and it just so hapens we are doing a social change essay for school, and I happened to pick animal abuse (hmm… I wonder how that happened…) and I’ve included this site in my list of resources. Without the fantastic time we had at Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp and without the experiences I’ve got from these safaris we’ve taken, I would just have a boring ole’ essay that states what I think is wrong about animal abuse. But now that I’ve seen this is gives me an entire different view on animal abuse and cruelty. More people should experience what I did. Thanks for the unforgettable safari experience

- L. Ellis

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ranger rich March 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Miss Laela…i was so happy to see your happy face when you guys came back to visit! I am so glad that you found your second visit to us so fulfilling and I hope that your friends will get something out the essay you going to write. Hope to see you all soon!

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vin mainiero December 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Richard: so glad to see your doings again. My wife, Beth, and I were with you on safari at Sabi Sabi in May 2011. Having been on safaris in Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa, I can say with certainty, you have been the best ranger we’ve ever had on all those safaris. Your superior knowledge of the animals and the area plus astronomy added too is phenomenal. Keep up your good work. Has your planned book been published yet? Would love to hear from you. vin

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