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A stalkin lioness

Tracking is a guiding skill often overlooked and allowed to become rusty through lack of use. So in the morning before clearing some admin and performing maintenance jobs, I walked to the main lodge so that I could see which of Kololo’s animals were around and what spoor (footprints) I might identify on the way.

Alongside the road were several impala and wildebeest and I could identify their footprints in the dirt road, together with some from the resident Springbuck and Nyala, a passing black-backed Jackal and this really clear, fresh baboon left hand and foot track, nicely illuminated by the morning sunlight.

A Welgevonden afternoon game drive

For the afternoon game we off around 3:30. My guests a mix of people with varying knowledge of the animals and their behaviour, so I tailored my guiding patter to try and accommodate all. I started out by heading to and driving through the area I had witnessed the Cheetah kill yesterday in the hope they may still be around and visible. Sadly no such luck, although a large number of plains game were spotted and identified, although many were at a distance requiring binoculars.

We then drove into the area where Jacques told me he’d seen the Southern Lion pride that morning. The sun was shining through the long grass on a rise to the right of the vehicle as we approached another game viewer facing us. As we neard the other driver advised me that I was approaching lion, in the long grass. We stopped and found the lioness only around 15 to 20 metres away from our location, but because she was mostly obscured by the sunlight, she was all but invisible. I admitted to my guests that I would probably have missed sighting her at all if not for the information given by the other guide.

Off to the left of our vehicle were a number of groups of antelope including a herd of about a dozen red hartebeest, grazing +75 metres away down a slope towards a stream bed. They were also oblivious to the presence of the lioness.

A stalkin lioness

Whilst discussing the lion with my guests, the hartebeest continued to graze and the lioness decided to be opportunistic (as they are) and try her luck at stalking them. She went into the low crouching walk, creeping to 10 to 15 metres from the antelope before making her charge. At that moment my guests alerted me that the other southern pride female had emerged from the grass behind my vehicle and fairly casually made her way over the road, not taking part in the hunting process. The hartebeest reacted very quickly to the charge and in no time at all had outdistanced the lioness, who gave up the chase almost immediately.

So, another failed cat hunt witnessed, demonstrating their less than perfect success rate (although in this instance I understand the southern pride had been seen earlier eating from a recent kill, so their stomachs were probably still fairly heavy, impacting the urgency of the hunt).

Bull elephant and a crash of white rhino

After that spectacle we went on to find a couple of bull elephant that were considering how to deal with a crash of 5 adult and 1 juvenile white rhino that were arguing over some supplemental feed put out for them by one of the lodges. We left as the sun was going down to see what else we may encounter on our way back to South Gate and dinner at the lodge.

Once more a very good day with some special highlights.

 

Auteur

Paul Griffin