Phinda: Buffalo Chase Lions and a Cheetah Playfully Chases a Zebra

Andrew’s News:

We knew that the Marsh lions had not eaten for a few days so that was where we headed first this morning, hoping for some hunting action. When we arrived we saw that they were busy with a zebra kill, and as there was not much left of their meal we realised that the kill must have taken place last night.

The sun was rising as we arrived at the kill and the beautiful lighting conditions gave us excellent photographic opportunities.

Suddenly, while we were photographing the lions, quite a serious altercation broke out between and adult male and one if the subadult males.



The viciousness appeared quite alarming but ended quickly when one of the adult lionesses became involved.

The noise of this altercation attracted the attention of a herd of about thirty buffalo. They arrived on the scene and appeared to disapprove of what they could see.




Together they lowered their horns and charged and chased the lions for about fifty meters at which point the lions scattered into long grass with their tails between their legs. The disgruntled buffalo stomped around for a while longer before settling down to graze in the territory they had taken over. We were amazed at how quickly the lions had submitted to the buffalo and totally given way to them, with no attempt to stand up against them. 

It was time for us to capture some cheetah action and we found two cats at at a waterhole.



There were six or seven zebra close by, and we certainly didn’t expect the action that unfolded next.

One of the subadult cheetahs (with delusions of grandeur) started to stalk one of the zebra, and then put on speed and chased the zebra for quite a distance. The cheetah seemed to be playing more than seriously hunting – he certainly seemed to be enjoying himself.




As he returned from his chase a herd of impala arrived for a drink at the waterhole. They were very wary when they spied the cheetah, but when the cats started stalking the buck they had lost the element of surprise. The wary impala saw the cheetahs creeping closer they rapidly retreated to disappear into thicker protective bush.

This afternoon we returned to the zebra kill where the subadults were picking on the scraps that remained, and squabbling good-naturedly over the bits and pieces. The buffalo had wandered about 100 meters away and we moved over to them for photographs in the golden late afternoon sunlight. 

We were watching a herd of elephants bathing when we were informed of a leopard not far away.  This was great news as leopard are not frequently spotted in this area. We headed in the direction indicated and found a large male leopard with a newly killed medium sized warthog. It was thrilling watch the powerful animal as he dragged his prize into a bushy area and out of sight. As it was becoming quite dark we headed back to camp, stopping briefly to capture spotlit images of a chameleon.

We reflect on yet another exciting, successful day as we gather around the fire and absorb as much as we can of the bush atmosphere – and speculate again on tomorrow …