(Photos from Back of Ben’s Camera)
During the night we could hear lions roaring intermittently and thought that they were the ones that visited the Okaukuejo Waterhole before dawn this morning, and they continued to roar when they left the Waterhole. Because they were probably not too far away, we went in search of them.
We searched all the roads around Okaukuejo, and all those leading to the nearby waterholes, including the road that runs to New Brownie, but there was no sign of the lions at all.
Then we tried Gemsbokvlakte, and there we found one lion very close to the road. We thought that it was probably the same one that we spotted at New Brownie yesterday. He was just lying around, totally inactive, so we left him to rest while we departed to check the next areas.
As we left a female Springbok was pronking next to the road. We saw her and kept pace with her as she pronked – and carried on pronking. As we drove along we photographed her for several hundred meters. Her prongs were high and sustained – probably the most impressive I have ever seen.
We moved on to Okondeka Waterhole where we found a pride of ten lions. They were stalking anything in sight, but were not hunting seriously at first. Their heads were up with ears alert. We remained with the pride, hoping that they would do some serious hunting, and because they were active, we returned to the scene after our midday break.
We found three lionesses watching a herd of zebra. The lionesses were on the crest of a ridge with the zebra grazing contentedly, and unaware of any danger, on the flat area adjacent to the ridge. The herd gradually moved closer and closer to the lions, totally oblivious to their presence.
We positioned ourselves close to the zebra, believing that when they got close enough, the three lionesses would ambush them and chase them towards us.
No, it did not happen that way. The wily pride outwitted the zebra – and us!
Suddenly as the zebra approached the lions they broke into a run. But what? That were running directly towards the lions on the ridge! What on earth was going on? We could not believe it!
Within seconds we saw what happened … another lioness, that neither we nor the zebra had seen, had crept up behind the herd and was sprinting furiously towards the zebra, causing the herd to panic and run away from her …
And now the zebra were trapped between the lioness that chased them at full sprint, and the three on the ridge. They ran straight into the trap. We saw the lioness sprinting after one of the zebra, joined quickly by the three that were waiting for this. They jumped onto her back but fell off. Just then, they disappeared over a ridge. We moved forward as rapidly as we could, but by the time we cleared the ridge to catch up a few seconds later the lions had already grabbed and pulled down the zebra. The zebra was kicking furiously, while all ten lions jumped on the kill, and after killing it they settled down to feed.
Whew! What an experience! We were shaking from the sheer excitement of the event! Luckily we all remembered to capture images …
By this time it was very late and we needed to get back to the rest camp. We made time for a few sunset shots – one with a long line of wildebeest walking across a plain blowing dust that coloured an iridescent orange with the backlighting provided by the setting sun.
We also stopped to photograph two rutting male springbok with that bright orange background. They stared at each other and head-butted from time to time, looking quite beautiful in that setting.
This is our final night at Etosha as we return to Windhoek in the morning for farewells – until next time …