sabi sabi ranger stories

lion prides clash

It was a cold winters evening at Sabi Sabi, we were on safari and had just finished sundowners.

It was now dark and we had stopped in a very specific location, we were trying to locate a pride of ten lions. Richard my tracker had been on foot before dark armed with my trusty rifle trying to locate the pride. The tracks had miraculously disappeared as there had been no rain for months, the ground was as hard as rock!

My guests and I were sitting quietly trying to listen for any alarm, distress or even the lions calling.

Suddenly we heard it, the clue we had been waiting for! It was the alarm call of a heard of Impala. (A medium sized antelope frequently taken by the super predators).

The Impala were calling as if the world was coming to an end! We were now making our way through the bush towards the sounds being emitted by the Impala.

Richard my tracker was upfront sitting upright and proud like only a true Shangaan tracker does, scanning carefully trying to pick up the red reflection of a predators eye. We found the herd of Impala, they were still sounding their alarm calls, one could see the hot air vapour being expelled by their black nostrils as Richard swung the spot light fromleft to right. We found the lions they were a few hundred meters South of the heard of Impala. The lions had killed and were almost finished with the carcass when we arrived on the scene

Appearing from the shadows cast by our spotlight emerged the silhouette of another lioness. On closer inspection she was larger and more powerful than any of the lionesses from the pride of ten, her muscles were well defined and looked like that of a super athlete! The three lionesses from the pride of ten catapulted themselves towards the lone lioness; she was not part of their pride. The three lionesses gave chase but suddenly stopped dead in their tracks, when they looked up they realised that their worst nightmare was about to come true! Richard scanned with the spotlight, we counted eighteen lions, this was the demolition gang commonly referred to as the Sabi Sabi Northern pride. They stood in a line like in an old war movie, their eyes glowing red like a demons eyes. They knew and we knew that blood was to be shed as the smaller pride had crossed into their territory. Just as we had finished reminiscing of what could happen or what was going to happen, all hell broke lose. The notorious thugs of the Northern pride had in an instant caught and surrounded an adult lioness from the smaller pride. The lioness had been flipped onto her back; the lionesses from the Northern pride were in for the kill as they ripped in to her soft white belly and her neck.

The lioness was biting, clawing and snarling for all she was worth. I could see the desperation in her eyes as every brute full attack caused her untold agony.

The five centimetre canines and razor sharp claws of the other lionesses were saturated with blood as they pierced her again and again. She lay there motionless she was completely disembowelled and her once golden, muscular torso was crimson and limp. She breathed her last breath and was gone forever, her eyes still open as if she was going to watch what would happen next. The guests and I thought that it was over the rest of the lionesses had fled in fear of their lives. Richard picked up the reflection of one lioness, it was a lioness from the smaller pride and she was headed straight back towards the Northern pride! Did this lioness know what was in store for her or was she completely insane?. No, she was coming back to do battle, she was larger, more muscular and more determined. Instantly the Northern pride attacked, she was in no mood to be pushed around either, I have never seen ferocity and determination like she was displaying. The lioness clawed her way back to the carcass of her dead relative and lay on top of it, not willing to budge even a millimetre. The attacks came in fast and furious, mouths agape exposing the deadly canines that ripped the life from her relative, still she would not budge, no one was going to harm her dead relative again! This was a display of courage that humans could not even try to comprehend.

Attack after attack she was out numbered six to one, her muscular body crimson red her wounds deep and bleeding profusely, saturating the dry ground below her. The lionesses from the Northern pride were tiring now and starting to loose interest, they had proved their point, however she still lay on top of her dead relative, canines exposed and lunging forward at any lion that even glanced in her direction, she was not about to give up either!

Another hour passed the attacks were few and far between, her coat saturated with blood, was now starting to dry, and she was becoming black in colour. Eventually the Northern pride moved off and she removed herself from her dead relative. One could see now that the adrenaline was wearing off, she began feeling the pain as she moved stiffly and cautiously sniffing, grooming and head rubbing as if trying to encourage the dead lioness to get up and follow her. The wounded lioness then moved off realising that her relative would never be groomed again or join in on a hunt. The lioness was left for the hyenas, vultures and the various decomposers to take her back to the earth. The very courageous lioness that so willing put her own life on the line probably does not remember the incident that happened three years ago, but to this day she still bears the massive scars. Every time I see her and the rest of her pride I remember the incident like it happened yesterday. When we are with the pride on safari and she looks up and we make eye contact it feels as if she knows I witnessed the event that nearly cost her life. Life carries on for her, she is a mother now of four cubs, they will never know what happened to their mother. When one looks at those determined golden brown eyes and the scars she bears, it says it all "I AM WILD AND I AMFREE."

By: Andre van Zyl

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