What the Hyena Amazingly Did at The Lion Kill …

Ben’s News from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Tour:

When we set out for our morning drive we went straight to the hyena den to photograph any action there. We arrived to find several hyenas milling around. Adults and youngsters were coming and going to and from all directions while a cute little one month old pup played and watched the comings and goings of the bigger animals.

We sat with hyenas until the sun rose. We used fill in flash to give a great effect. The activity was nonstop.

We left the hyenas when the sun was up to go in search of a leopard. We received a call about a freshly killed Nyala and of course we went to investigate. The carcass was in a tree not far from the Lodge.

The leopard that had made the kill and hoisted the Nyala into the tree was nowhere to be seen. Because he was so very shy and reluctant to show himself we surmised that he could be an unknown male, new to the area and unaccustomed to vehicles. We waited for much of the morning, but he did not show himself.

We returned to the Lodge for breakfast and some of the guests departed after their meal as the safari had ended, but some stayed on, to experience back to back safaris.

Just before lunch the barman at the Lodge told us that as he walked along a path in the Lodge he spotted a young female leopard as she grabbed a young Nyala at the waterhole overlooked by the Lodge. This female is well known to us, and we knew that we should be able to find her.

So this afternoon we found the young leopard almost immediately. She was lying on the ground, and looked very hot and uncomfortable as the day was one of the hottest we have experienced so far. Then she got up and we realised that the leopard was on her way to have a drink at the waterhole. We raced to the waterhole ahead of her to get the best possible view. She drank for ages while we photographed her side – on and then moved around to get images from the front. She thought she had enough to drink and moved away but then returned almost immediately to continue lapping at the cool water.

A herd of elephants arrived after a while and chased the leopard away. We waited to see whether she would return. But no – she had had enough for the day and disappeared deep into the bush.

Eventually just at sunset the leopard arrived back at her kill. We positioned ourselves to capture her arrival as well as her climb into the tree. Once she was at the kill there was too much foliage to see her well so we left her to go and photograph two lionesses that are seldom seen in this area.

We found the lionesses with the half consumed remains of an impala kill. They were both quite full, having eaten much of the carcass, and one lioness rested to the side while the other still gnawed at the remains.

Because there were two vehicles we were able to provide back lighting and side lighting for each other. The resting lioness lifted her head and sat up from time to time, and then flopped down for another few minutes.

Both lionesses were feeding on the carcass when a noisy hyena arrived, vocalising very loudly and persistently, as it made those typical hyena whoops and high pitched yelps. The hyena was right next to our vehicle and the cose proximity meant that the sound was very loud. What an experience that was!

The hyena circled around the lionesses, ever closer and closer while vocalising at full volume as it went around.

Closer and closer as we watched, incredulous at what she was doing. She started to sniff the lionesses, and her nose actually touched the rumps of the feeding cats. The next moment took our breath away. The hyena darted in, grabbed the head of the impala just about from the jaws of the lionesses and ran away with it. She had stolen that carcass while the lionesses were eating! We stared, hardly believing what we had just seen … whie the lionesses looked in the direction where their meal had just disappeared, baffled and incredulous.

So with that amazing start to the second safari, we returned to the Lodge, absolutely agog, and wondering where to start our morning drive as there are just so many options …