Everyone knows the lion is the king of the jungle, or “the bush is” … but is he really? Seeing a male lion out on patrol is always an incredible moment for guests while on safari. What made this particular sighting even more special was this lion had a surprise in store.
He was going to be shown, who the king …. of the water was!
We headed off from Kapama Buffalo Camp for the morning safari . There was a slight chill in the autum air and the sky was clear and crisp. It was a relatively quite start to our morning, but even though we did not spot anything immediatley, being surrounded by the natural beauty of the South African bushveld still enthralled our guests.
After a while, we came across one of the Hoedspruit male lions. Together with his brother, these two lions dominate the Kapama Reserve.
His belly was very full, which meant he had just feasted on a kill. We continued following him along a road for a while before he disappeared into the thickets. Knowing lions go for a drink after a good meal, we moved around to the watering hole not too far from where we last spotted him. There we sat and waited patiently.
Luckily for us, there were some hippos in the dam to keep us company for the time being. I took this opportunity to share interesting facts about hippos with my guests.
Did you know…
- Hippos are the third largest land mammals on Earth after elephants & rhinos
- Hippos are most active at night, when they forage for food
- An open mouth is not a yawn but rather a warning sign
- Hippos can hold their breath for about 5 min. Just long enough to take walks along a riverbed floor
- With the harsh African sub and harsh UV rays, Hippos can produce a red, oily liquid which acts as a natural sunblock for their sensative skin
- Hippos spend up to 16 hours daily submerged in water to keep their massive bodies cool under the hot African sun
Soon enough, the male lion appeared from the thickets and made his way to the water for a drink.
As he approached, the hippos became restless as there was a young one with them. Keeping a close eye on the lion as he quenched his thirst one of the younger hippos acted all tough and approached the lion. The male lion felt slightly intimidated and made his way to a smaller puddle to continue his drink. This young hippo had enough of this intruder and charged straight at the lion.
The lion backed off quickly as this young hippo was double his size already.
Feeling very proud of its effort the hippo moved back into the water while the male lion retreated into the bushes with his tail between his legs.
Although the lion might be king of the bushveld, the hippo is the king of the Kapama rivers and dams. After witnessing this incredible interaction between the two species we left them both in peace.
Definetly a sighting to remember!
Story by Hancho – Kapama Buffalo Camp guide
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