the hunt

To see lions in the wild as we so often do at Sabi Sabi is amazing, but to see them hunt is phenomenal. I couldn't believe my luck.

We went on drive knowing what we wanted to find: it was a breeding herd of buffalo that was over 100 strong. Our determination got us zoned in on our target and we didn't track for long before we found the large herd. The sun was setting, forming a golden dust cloud around the buffalo. We enjoyed watching the young buffalos clashing horns, the dominant males unsuccessfully trying to mate and the young calves suckling as the herd slowly moved forward.

We knew about the Southern Pride of lion's whereabouts and that they were not too far from the buffalo. We were so mesmerized by the buffalo and the different interactions between them that we didn't realize they were slowly heading straight towards the pride. Finally, anticipating the meeting between the lionesses and buffalo, we sent a vehicle to stay with the lions. The radio call came in notifying us that the lions had been found. All we had to do now was be patient and wait it out. The plot thickened when we were notified by the other Land Rover that the lionesses had got up and started moving in the direction of the buffalo.

lioness and cub on safari game drive at Sabi Sabi

In the distance we spotted the vehicle which had been following the lionesses long before we saw them. The lionesses arrived unnoticed even by us, stalked into their various positions and started tactically circling the herd. Every now and then one female would make herself visible, causing the herd to stress. An alarm call would be given and the buffalo would all immediately bunch up protecting their young, only to relax after a few minutes. It only took a single alarm call from one buffalo to get the herd huddled up. This happened repeatedly with the same female giving her position away every time.

buffalo running

We waited and with great anticipation we watched, but nothing happened. The herd of buffalo and the guests on the vehicle relaxed. We scanned the grass for the lionesses but saw nothing. Then the same lioness lifted her head and once again it didn't go unnoticed by the buffalo. Yet again the alarm call got the herd of buffalo on their guard. There was no attack and the herd started settling again. We had been with the buffalo for almost three hours and I couldn't begin to imagine how stressful these constant scares were for them.

African sunset while on safari game drive at Sabi Sabi

The sun had set and the dull blue sky remained. The chilling silence in the cold air ended with another alarm call and after hours of waiting the chase eventually began. A female charged out of the bush on the eastern side of the buffalo sending them running in a westerly direction, only for another female to come from the south western side, sending the buffalo stampeding north. All we heard were alarm calls and the sound of 400 plus feet hitting the ground. There was a lot of confusion, dust and panic. Suddenly it all stopped and we could hear the spine chilling sound of a young buffalo calling in fear and distress.

With the buffalo herd long gone we watched the lionesses feasting on their success, astonished by the time and patience it took for them to hunt one buffalo.

by: calvin kotze (bush lodge ranger)

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