There is nothing quite as exciting as leaving for safari and finding fresh lion tracks. The guests, all sitting in the Land Rover wondering what will be on the safari menu for the day, anxiously waiting to hear what’s going on when tracker Dollen raises his hand. Ranger Darred then consults his bush encyclopedia (his Tracker – Dollen) who informs Darred that there are fresh lion tracks. The excitement levels peak as Darred shows the guests the fresh footprints in the sand and the tracking begins. On this particular afternoon the tracking went on for about 30 minutes before Dollen pointed out the circling vultures. This is always a good sign when looking for the big cats as they are probably feeding on a kill.
This was exactly the case. As Darred drove in they found the Southern Pride feeding on a big waterbuck bull that they had very recently pulled down, the vultures all circling up above and slowly coming down to wait patiently for the lions to move off so that they can clean up the scraps.
They watched as the lions devoured the meat, fighting amongst one another for a seat at the dinner table. When it comes to sociability, the lions are the only cats that have adopted such a lifestyle and this makes them very effective hunters allowing them to pull down bigger prey species in order to feed the whole family. However, as soon as the group effort has put the food on the table it is a free for all. The strongest lions find the best spots and defend them, the noises on the kill as they growl and snarl at one another go right through you and they often send the message home with a slap from one of their huge paws to any lion trying to get at their precious meat. The smell of the fresh meat fills the nostrils as they use their specialised molars to cut through the meat like a pair of scissors. The cubs are often the ones to lose out the most as they are not big and strong enough to compete with the larger females but they also require less. On average a lion would require 10% of their body weight in meat daily but can binge feed much more than that, which would allow them to go a couple of days without feeding. As the cubs get bigger though the pressure on the pride to make kills will increase and if the pressure gets too big it could create a split in the pride but there is no need for assumptions. We will just have to wait and see how it all pans out.