There was a lot of action in the LS area, so, being on our own and able to do as we wished, I suggested that we head up to Skukuza and then down towards LS and see if we could see anything. As we set off, I looked heavenward and said “Come on dad, you were the Leo, where are the cats?”…..and then smiled to myself.
As we got to the entrance to Shitlave dam, there was a minor traffic jam and it looked as if maybe, just maybe, Dad was answering our prayers….I mean why else is there ever a traffic jam in Kruger – it had to be a cat of some description!
I wonder if any of you have ever had the situation where there are people in 1 car at a sighting who just irritate everybody with what they do? Well we had one of those – a little bakkie with 2 people in it and they popped up at EVERY sighting we had in the next 2 days and each time, they caused a problem!
They either pulled up in such a way that they blocked the view for everybody else, they drove alongside the animal so that it couldn’t cross the road, they pushed in instead of taking a turn etc and to top it all…they were taking photos on their cell phones!!!!
The animal involved in this sighting was a female leopard and her cub and all she wanted to do was cross the road. Eventually, I told them in a not so friendly manner to STOP!
And she eventually scooted across the road, but needless to say, there were no photo opportunities.
But a leopard is a leopard, however you see it.
Having gone round Naphe boulder the previous evening and seen diddley squat, I asked my daughter if she wanted to go that way again, but didn’t really wait for the answer as I sailed past.
We did see this little klipspringer
These two hoopoes in a tree, but not a great photo
This Eagle (I would be guessing if I said it was a tawny)
And a large troop of baboons with this liitle one getting a "clip around the lughole" from his mom.
Let me say first of all that I am an animal lover and can’t even step on a worm,
so the thought of animals being killed by others really upsets me, much as I know that it is nature.
I don’t mind seeing lions or leopards eating a kill as the animal is already dead and at least I didn’t see it suffer, but apart from the bones I mentioned earlier, we had not so much as seen anything that resembled a kill.
Now, remembering that it was 5th Nov, we had hoped to see some fireworks. We got to the crossroad just outside Skukuza and were about to turn right when we noticed about 4 cars on the road towards the camp. Who can resist checking out a group of cars?
The car in front of us did a U-turn and as he went past us, he said “Lion”. Hey Dad, you really were pulling out all the stops today, weren’t you!!
We also did a U-turn and filed in behind the other cars. In the bush on the right, we caught sight of a male lion walking very slowly through the bush, stopping every couple of steps.
We soon realised that there was another one a little bit behind him and one a bit further into the bush. Everybody was engrossed in watching these beautiful lion – the one in particular had a dark mane and he was stunning.
I looked further down the road towards the camp and noticed a buffalo grazing in the bush on the side of the road. In a flash I realised that these beauties were on the hunt!!
I opted to leave the people watching the lions and positioned my little car level with the buff. I checked out the fact that there was more than one buffalo, so what were the chances that the lions would be successful?
It seemed to be a herd of dugga boys (older males), with no small ones. As they moved along, grazing blissfully unaware it seemed of their followers, I drove slowly and was taking a video.
All of a sudden they bellowed and came crashing through the bushes right next to the car. I kept my eye on them as I was worried that one of them may run straight into the side of the car and the next thing I heard “woooooooow” from the other cars and OSV which by this time had moved up closer behind me and I swung the video camera around to the road in front of us and OMW!!!!!
The one buffalo which was not actually the one at the back of the herd, had stopped and was challenging the dark mane male! One of the other lions came running up the side of the car and joined his mate, much to the buffs surprise.
By this stage he obviously reckoned that discretion was the better part of valour
and turned to run into the bush to join the rest of the herd.
Sadly, he lost his footing and slipped on the tar for just a split second and the 1 lions was on his back in a jiffy!
It was like watching a rodeo – the buff’s feet were off the ground as he tried to dislodge the lion off his back, the lion was being flung about and hanging on with claws on his front paws only.
This is NOT what I wanted to see,
but I was not going to leave at this stage. I was videoing and my daughter was taking photos through the windscreen as they were literally right in front of us! They moved off the road and into the bush at the side of the road. By this time, the second lion had added his help as he went for the tendon at the back of the front legs to try to bring it down.
The third one, whom we called Dopey, almost looked like he didn’t quite know what to do and hovered about a bit.
We were rooting for the buff who, on a number of occasions, nearly broke free. As I said, I was taking a video and trying to position my car for the best view in the safest position. A huge OSV pulled up on the verge between me and the action and I was in no mood to let him block me out – he was much larger than I was and could have parked in LS and still seen what was going on.
Eventually we had manoevered ourselves in such a way that we could see out of our side window and take a slightly clearer photo.
Daughter, but this stage was almost in tears and kept saying “Sorry Mr buff, sorry Mr buff”, but when I asked her if she wanted to leave, she said ”No, I just wish they would hurry up and kill it!” I was shaking like a leaf and could not believe that I was actually sitting watching the thing that I least wanted to ever see, but just couldn’t leave!
Dopey finally “helped” by leaning on the buff’s back to weight it down a bit more.
The first lion was lying underneath it with his jaws firmly clamped around its throat. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if the buff collapsed on top of him.
After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, lion # 2 clamped the buffs nose with his mouth and after about 15 minutes, it was all over bar the shouting. I now see that males are not the most adept hunters/ killers, but to their credit, there was no blood, no gore and no real injury to the buff, but what goes through that poor buff’s mind as it realises that it is not going to get away.
I looked around and realised that I was being boxed in and didn’t feel comfortable, so we moved out of the melee and went to the camp for a breather and pit stop. By the time we came back, the lions had begun to feed and the traffic chaos was worse than the mall at Christmas! It took me close on 15 minutes to thread my way through the cars and said that we would come back later as they would be there for a couple of days!
WOW oh WOW! The 2 of us were stunned and couldn’t stop saying how we could not believe what we had just seen! And this was all by 07:30 in the morning!
For those who are wondering about the video….there were swear words that came out of my mouth that I didn’t even know I knew, so much so, that I actually apologised to the camera,
so the only way I would try to post it would be if I could do it in MUTE mode!
What else did Guy Fawkes have in store for us! I wonder?