From Calm to Chaos
We left Kapama Buffalo Camp for our afternoon game drive. As we were still on our winter program this meant around 4 pm. It was still early into the drive and my guests were relaxed, taking in the sights and sounds of the wildness around them. In the distance we heard some birds making a lot noise. Crested Franklins to be exact. It sounded as if something had given them a fright. I decided to take a closer look and moved around to see what could have startled them. We drove slowly, up and then down trying to spot something, anything that might have caused their reaction. After a brief pause, I decided to carry on, maybe it was nothing, just birds making noise for bird’s sake.
Just then we spotted a single female lion crossing the road, with a low body and ears focused on something in front of her. I immediately turn off the vehicle, because it seemed she was on the hunt. The female lion moved very slowly into the bushes. After a while we lost sight of her. I decided to stay and see if we could hear something. We waited about 5 to 10 minutes. All of a sudden it seemed as if chaos broke out. Alarm calls and barking were going off in all directions, animals running left and right and all over the place trying to escape the lion’s attack. After that, we heard a massive thud as if something fell to the ground and a final grunt. Then everything went quiet again…
I quickly moved us around to try and see exactly what happened. In my mind, it was a successful hunt. As we make our way around the corner, we saw more of the pride. A bunch of female lions all huddled in a small ball feasting on something, growling and hitting each other with their paws claiming their share of the prize. It was difficult to see exactly what it was until I repositioned us.
That is when we could see it was a small zebra that had fallen prey to the might of the lions. Not even 1 years old yet. A successful hunt indeed. Not wanting to share, they continued to fight amongst themselves. As it was only a small zebra, not knowing when they will get a meal again it was every lion for themselves. A small zebra like that would not fill their bellies for long.
While we were watching them, out of nowhere a big male lion come from behind and charged at the fresh kill. The females knew the pecking order and gave way quickly, jumping away from the zebra kill leaving only dust in their way. The big male lion fiercely grabbed the small zebra and started to walk away from the other lions. In a pride male lions always eat first. In this case, the male was probably a distance away and heard all the commotion. The female lions tried to eat as much as they could, as quick as possible, knowing the male will make his way shortly.
From a relaxing game drive to an extremely exciting lion hunt! What a day. It just shows you that anything can happen at any time when out in the wilderness. Your senses, instinct and experience can lead you to a very successful drive. That and listening to the sounds around you as even the smallest sound can lead to an exciting event – that is if you know what to listen for off course.
Story by Ranger Ben Scheepers – Buffalo camp