the sound delivered the news

lioness while on safari game drive at sabi sabi

The crackling sound of a campfire, a hyena calling in the distance, the "five second" call of a Scops owl or the unmistakable roar of a lion. These are all sights and sounds of the bush that will stay with me all my life. But there is one specific sound that will haunt me forever - the distress call of a warthog.

lioness at sabi sabi

We found lion tracks early on in our game drive and even with calling in reinforcements we still tracked well into the mid-morning before we found them. It was the Southern Pride females and they were strangely active for mid-morning. Lions try to reserve all their energy during the heat of the day for when they need to hunt at night, so to see lions this playful was a pleasure. We watched and photographed the pride for quite some time before we decided to go and look for elephants.

We made our way out of the sighting and back down the road we came from. As we came out of a dip up onto a road that overlooked an open area we saw a lioness walking straight towards us. You never know what you are going to find around the next corner or through the dip ahead. This lioness walking towards us definitely took us all by surprise.

Her reaction that followed our finding her surprised us even more. She stopped, lengthened her neck and pointed her ears and gaze to the right of us. The next moment we heard this overwhelmingly loud squealing sound. Until today I get goose bumps thinking about the sound I heard that day. Like a missile the lioness cannonballed in the direction of the squealing. We were not too far behind her, not wanting to lose her and miss out on whatever was happening.

lioness while on safari game drive at sabi sabi

The lioness disappeared into what looked like a dust cloud. We were forced to stop, not being able to see what exactly was going on in front of us. The dust as well as the squealing sound settled and we could finally see five lionesses fighting over something on the ground. The lioness that we followed couldn't get her head in between the others to grab her share. She kept trying. She stuck her head between the other heads again and again until she finally got hold of something. Although holding on, the lioness to her right increased her growling warning. The moment the growling female lost her focus and lifted her head to snap to her left she lost her share of the warthog. That moment of losing her position and focus gave the other females an opportunity to grab their share of the warthog and run, leaving the one lioness standing.

We were as overwhelmed as the lioness, which had lost her limb of the warthog to a lioness that picked up on the action from a distance. It shows you how sound carries the news.

by wim vorster (safari manager)

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