We had a very exciting encounter two days ago. While on game drive, we were enjoying the presence of the Machaton pride who were slowly following a grazing herd of buffalo.
The lions, who had been alerted to the presence of the buffalo by the sounds of a female giving birth to a calf, cautiously made their way after them.
Lions are very opportunistic hunters and will take any opportunity presented to them – so we knew that something exciting was about to happen.
The female was clearly exhausted after giving birth, and as such she and the calf were targets. The lions decided to first move in on the calf and then onto the mother.
Buffalo are incredibly powerful and resilient animals, and were certainly not going to take things lying down.
When the lions went after the female, one of the larger bulls came storming in trying to chase them down, resulting in the pride scattering in all directions. The lions kept coming back and cleverly tired the female out even further.
When the bull decided enough was enough, he headed off in search of safety within the herd, with the female not far behind.
The exhausted female, who couldn’t keep up with the bull, was no match for the lions and was quickly brought to the ground. Even though she had been down for over 25 minutes, she still managed to get up again to try and fight them off, but as one of the lions had a firm grip around her mouth it wasn’t long until she was down again.
The Machaton pride stayed on the kill until the next evening, until two large nomadic male lions arrived to challenge them. The large males proved to be a formidable force and soon chased the pride off the kill to enjoy it for themselves.
That night we could hear the males calling often, perhaps to find out which other males were in the area. The following morning we found the Machaton pride’s tracks in the riverbed in front of our safari camp. They were clearly on the lookout for another kill after being chased away from the buffalo.
We will continue to watch these two males very closely, as their presence will certainly add a new dynamic to the existing lion prides in the area.
Images by Brendan Schmikl