Whenever watching Animal planet, National geographic, Discovery or any wildlife program, there is always a sighting which really stands out above the rest and as a Ranger you’re hoping that someday you will be there to capture a similar unique moment with your camera…and today, it happened to me.
We left the lodge a bit earlier this morning to an area where the Lions were seen the previous evening, hoping to track them before they disappear into the thickets. Hiding, from the blazing African sun.
20 minutes into the drive, approaching the first waterhole, my tracker alerted me to a strange but violent sound, a call which neither of us is familiar with; a call from a young Hippo fighting for survival against a big Lioness.
We approached the area with caution and were amazed and shocked of this rare but unique moment… a single female Lion trying to overpower the brutal strength of this beast. Lions are opportunistic hunters and will overcome any animal of their size and even much larger prey when they are hunting as a pride, but are also alert of any canines or injury to themselves which will affect their hunting capabilities in the future.
The lion tried so hard to get to the vital parts of the Hippo but she failed to get him down. By this time the hippo was bleeding profusely but still he didn’t give up. After a few minutes of rough “fighting” the lion stood back just to “take a break”… I think at this time she realized that she couldn’t take down the hippo and then started calling for backup. There was no reply from any of her pride members and as harsh as the fight started as disappointingly it ended for the Lion. The hippo got away and the Lion moved on looking for easier prey.
She didn’t manage to kill the hippo, but she did leave a lot of painful scars on the thick skin of the young Hippo.
This was one of the moments I am glad that I had my camera…. Long live the Hippo
We were rewarded this afternoon with a beautiful sighting of a young lioness and her two 5 month old cubs moving along a dry riverbed, every so often the lioness would spot potential prey along the banks of the dry river bed, she made several attempts to stalk the prey but was unfortunately un successful. What struck me the most was how the behavior of the cubs changed from being carefree and playful, running and jumping on each other, wresting and climbing small trees, to crouching low and staying hidden as soon as the lioness attempted to stalk her prey, they seemed to instantly recognize her change in body language and dutifully followed suit.
She is a very intelligent cat and a steadfast mother who has amazingly kept her cubs alive and healthy against some daunting odds, I have no doubt that she will be successful in her efforts to provide for her cubs tonight.
Story by: Ryan Roodt- Assistant Head Ranger Kapama River Lodge