I set off on our morning safari from Southern Camp with my assistant guide (Sifiso) and our guests. That particular morning was freezing, so we tried to get to a spot to watch the sunrise while we defrosted our bodies before setting off on our adventure. Vervet monkeys can be observed doing a similar thing and bask in the early morning sunshine to warm up.
We always ask our guests what animal would they would like to see while out on a safari. Lions are often top of the list. While soaking up the beautiful winter sunshine, a fellow ranger, Queen from Kapama River Lodge, called in a sighting of lions on the move. I decided to respond to the sighting because we had not had a decent lion sighting up to that point. On our approach to the area, we heard impalas alarm calling, something they do if they spot a potential threat. Scanning the surroundings, I could not see any lions. Then suddenly we saw impalas running all over the place. Through the chaos of the impalas running, we caught a quick glimpse of one of the lionesses as she moved deeper into the bush. It seemed to be her tactic to try her luck again. Impala just snorted and moved out of the area.
That is when I knew that it was an unsuccessful hunt. It is common for lions to miss most of their hunting attempts. They generally only have a success rate of about 20-30%. It was also low for these particular lions we were watching. They were sub-adults from another pride that were moving on their own as the two females they belong to have recently given birth to another litter consisting of seven cubs.
After a short time, the lions started to move closer to the road again. That is when we saw the pride. It was three young lionesses and one young male lion. They moved onto the road in front of us and continued in a southerly direction while we follow behind them. When I noticed a road that made it possible for me to move around them, I took it to see if we can get a frontal view of them as they continued down the road. I managed to get ahead of them and decided to wait for them to come to us. It was not long before they made their appearance around the corner.
It was not long before they made their appearance around the corner. The first thing our guests noticed was their beautiful yellow eyes staring down at us.
The guests and I started snapping a couple of photos of them as they moved closer. I was also able to get a few shots of my fellow ranger Queen in the background to give you a perspective of how large a +/- two-year-old lion is.
We continued to view them for a couple of more minutes before we set off to go and stop for a morning coffee. It was a fantastic sighting and one I don’t think our guests would easily forget.
Story and photos by: Southern Camp Ranger Viljoen Jordaan