Duba Plains Safari: Lioness / Buffalo Challenge

Wim Reports from Duba Plains: Lioness / Buffalo Challenge

We tried to get to the Plains this morning in time to get images in the early morning mist – but we missed the mist … (Hahaha). When we arrived on the plains, the morning was crystal clear – lovely for those early morning, crisp images.

We scrounged around and almost immediately found the two male lions – this time with two females.

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They have been mating for some weeks now, and we realised that the females are still in oestrus. Now, because these are two new males in the area, nature ensures the lineage by first ensuring the males’ dominance – any male who takes over an area needs to achieve alpha status before he can sire any offspring, to prevent him later killing any cubs that he perceives as rivals.

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We captured super shots of the two couples in the early morning light – when when we saw movement about 200 meters away – another lioness walked along very purposefully, and everything in her demeanour told us that she was hunting.

We raced after after her, and found a member of the old Silver-eye pride, who had made her way across from Paradise Island – her base territory – and was she ever on a mission!

She provided plenty of thrills, spine-chilling moments, excitement … and fabulous photographs as she proceeded to hunt anything and everything on the plains. First lechwe, then warthogs, then more lechwe – each time the series of events was breathtaking …

Then she had an incredible standoff with a lone dagga-boy … an old buffalo bull. She really appeared quite determined to go for him, and he was equally determined to resist … lone lioness vs lone buffalo bull – we held our breath … who would back down? who could possibly win this dangerous encounter?

Finally the lioness realised that she was completely outgunned and gave up. In any case it was so hot by now that all she wanted was to flop down under a shady tree and rest until the evening cool arrived.

We had another sumptuous lunch served for us under some beautiful trees … there is something just so special about enjoying a meal out there, as far as one can be from civilisation, with only wild animals around – in one of the last untouched areas on our planet.

After lunch we returned to the lioness but she was still sleeping, so we carried on to Buffalo Point where we spent a stupendous afternoon.

Just picture this: no clouds in a deep azure blue sky and not a breath of wind. And on the ground, green vegetation criss-crossed by clear water channels, reflecting that amazing colour from the sky. Now introduce lechwe, running in all directions, kicking up glistening sprays of water, and leaping in an elegant arc over the deeper channels with perfectly mirrored reflections in the water below. We could not get enough of the scene and seemed to try and photograph each of the hundreds of lechwe as they ran or leapt through the air.

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We tore ourselves away from the scene with great reluctance – not wanting to end our final full day in this unique place. Tomorrow morning we hope to spend our final game drive on this safari back with the lions …