We went straight to the vantage point that overlooks Paradise Island this morning to see if the buffalo would be returning to this side of the wide water channel. When we reached the vantage point the first morning sun rays were beginning to pierce the sky.
We started to take photos of the beautiful scene … and as it became lighter we saw the buffalo.
And not only the buffalo!
A pride of lions was using the shadowy light to stalk the buffalo, and the lions had created a semi-circle around their unaware prey.
And chaos reigned for the next two hours! The buffalo were chased left and right, back and forth. They regrouped to chase the lions, but the lions were wily, and as the buffalo charged some of the pride members, others attacked from the other side.
The commotion was compounded by the bellows and snorts, and water and dust flew in all directions. The incredible action kept us spellbound and our cameras ultra busy.
Finally, just as the buffalo were fending off lions on one side, a single lioness leaped – and caught a young buffalo. Within seconds, and before the remainder of the herd could react, the lioness had assistance. The lions dragged the carcass to a convenient spot before they started feeding. The spot they chose was partially obscured from us, but the excitement of witnessing the entire action overcame any momentary disappointment we may have felt.
We left he spot and soon came across the pride of lions that we have seen quite a few times – the pride with the small cubs. The cubs were nowhere to be seen, but the adults were lying sprawled out in the sunlight, potbellied and satiated from a kill during the night.
Purely by chance we spotted six figures crossing a wide water channel. We raced to catch up with them – another pride of lions.
They were clearly very, very hungry and were out hunting. In fact, they hunted everything in sight as we spent hours following them.
Once again, the excitement, tension and sustained action were just amazing!
First on the list was a warthog in the middle of a large clearing. We watched as the lions fanned out, and started to creep closer and closer. Realising what would happen we gingerly made our way to the far side of the clearing. Now the warthog was between us and the lions, and we had a perfect view.
The lions moved stealthily closer and closer, surrounding the warthog. They covered about 100 meters totally unobserved by their prey. When one lioness was no more that a meter or so away the chase was on. The warthog dodged and zig-zagged, squealing at the top of his lungs, with the lion inches from his fast moving tail. They ran directly toward us – the only area where the lioness had no backup. Any other direction and a lion waiting to ambush the warthog would have ended his flight. But, running past us where there were no lions gave him the only possible chance – and he survived the dramatic encounter.
The lions gathered together and tried to find the warthog again, but while they were searching they spotted something else of interest. A Water – Mongoose was foraging next to one of the water channels.
Within seconds the lions were after the Water – Mongoose. They chased it in and out of the water, and it was amazing to see them totally submerge themselves in the water in an attempt to catch it. The Water – Mongoose put up a valiant struggle, trying everything it could to elude the big cats, but eventually they grabbed it.
And then the tussle over the morsel kept the lions busy for a few minutes.
They were just finishing their snack when they spied a Leguan relaxing and baking in the warm sun. Again they charged … but the Leguan thrashed it tail furiously, and when the lions stopped in amazement to assess the movement, it slipped serenely into the water and disappeared.
And our band of hungry lions continued …
A lone wandering hippo was their next target.
They circled the hippo, and started to charge it. But the hippo was having none of this, and stood his ground. The lions attacked again, but again the hippo turned and glowered at them, head lowered.
Suddenly the lions gave up. After the sustained exertion of the past few hours, exhaustion caught up with them and they flopped down under a nearby tree and promptly went to sleep.
After yet another incredible day filled with non stop action we are back at the camp, reliving those unbelievable moments and comparing photographs.
It seems like a good idea to start with the buffalo again tomorrow ..