Fanus Reports from the Khwai, Savute, Chobe Botswana Tour: Elephants Guard a Waterhole from Lions
What a stupendous day that began within 500 meters after leaving the camp when we encountered a lioness. She was contact calling for her pride repeatedly and we followed her as she headed in the direction of their replies. She moved off into a neighbouring territory at which stage we could no longer follow.
We headed south, stopping for all the general game and birds in this lush area, until we reached Marabou Pan. We thought we might be lucky here as this is the only source of water for the animals this far south. And were we ever lucky!
Lying close to the pan we found a bull elephant carcass. This elephant has apparently had a very swollen leg for some days and finally died as a result of the leg wound. The carcass had been discovered by a pride of lions, and they were still eating – although they appeared to be really full, with bulging abdomens, but they guarded that carcass, reacting to every movement and sound that could mean a scavenger..
After a hurried lunch at the camp we went straight back to the carcass, where some of the lions were still climbing all over the elephant.
(photo from back of Fanus’s camera)
Then the drama started.
The lions decided that they would like a drink at the nearby pan. As I mentioned, there is not much other water in the vicinity. But the water was closely guarded by a number of elephant bulls, and any approach by a lion was met with a firm rebuff from the elephants that sent the lions scurrying.
They tried again and again, but the elephants were persistent – no lions at the water hole!
Then one of the lionesses found a thin trickle of water from the pan but this was clearly not enough as she continued to look longingly at the water so close by but so out of reach.
We thought that the lions might have a chance to drink when the elephants moved away – but no! they were simply making way for another bachelor herd to move in – and they started guarding the water with even more determination.
By the time we had to leave to return to the camp, the lions had not had even a moment at the water! Not a sip! The situation will probably increase in tension in the next days if the lions are unable to get past the elephants.
On the way back to the camp we stumbled across a pack of Wild Dogs out hunting. They were accompanied by 3 young 6 month old pups that were unable to keep up with the fast hunters, but wow! I was astounded by their speed.
When the pack disappeared into a densely wooded area we called it a day and returned to the camp.
Maybe not quite a day – right now I am standing next to the pool at the camp watching 8 elephants at the water hole while about 20 buffalo hover close by, awaiting their turn. Sigh! This is just too wonderful for words …
Tomorrow we plan to return to the elephant carcass to check what may develop there …
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