Scott finally (after 1.5 days) saw “lions eating something”.
We started our morning looking for the leopard from last night. He was in the same tree still eating the sheep he had stored in the branches. We waited for him to climb down.
He moved under the bushes to work still more meat off the sheep’s head that fell out of the tree.
He then moved on, working his way along the river bank. We and other safari vehicles followed.
He was interested in a bushbuck, but Kevin recognized that birds and dik-diks were signalling his presence. He eventually disappeared into the bush.
Our plan was to head west to the Mara River to see hippos and crocodiles. Which we did. Along the way, we saw quite a few lions, including this group of 4 cubs.
And a mother and baby cub.
Every once in a while, Kevin stops the vehicle to scan the area. This morning he said he saw a topi and zebra staring into the bushes, which meant there was something there. We drove over and he said, “Lion”. I said, “There’s another!!” Ha, saw one before Kevin. Or did he say “Lions”? Now I’m not sure.
A rare view of a hippo outside of water. So far when we have seen them, they are mostly submerged and wow, do they stink!
The Mara River is as low as Kevin has ever seen it. He’s pointing to a crossing area that features in almost every documentary about wildebeest migration.
Since yesterday, I have had this hope that I will spot something before Kevin. My dad was good at spotting things in the countryside and maybe I have the same genetic visual acuity. And besides, Kevin has to drive while I can focus on applying my eagle eye.
As we drove towards the crocs, he saw a lion lying under a bush. I had to look a long time after we stopped before I could see it. (But saw it before Scott. My eagle eye!) We were in an area with a lot of grazing animals, particularly zebras and wildebeests.
Kevin thought if the lion woke up, she would be interested in lunch or breakfast.
After looking at the crocs sleeping, Kevin drove back to look at the sleeping lion. The lioness turned out to be awake and staring at a potential meal.
“There’s another one in the bush,” said Kevin. I needed binoculars to find a second lion. Kevin then noticed the wildebeest were grazing in the direction of the lions. The area pride is known as the River Pride. They use the bushes along the river to hide and hunt. Kevin moved us from the spot near the lions to a spot near an access point to the river. “Let’s see if the wildebeest move down the gully where they can’t run away from the lions as easily,” Kevin suggested.
So we waited as my eagle eye noticed the zebras and wildebeest cautiously moving closer to the lions and the river. Other safari vehicles drove past us as we waited.
As the wildebeest started to move faster down the gully to the river, they suddenly turned and started racing away.
One of the lions appeared chasing a wildebeest. They charged up an incline and just when it looked like the wildebeest had outrun the lion’s endurance, she hooked a leg.
The second lion appeared. With one holding a leg and one biting the throat, we raced closer.
Scott madly snapped photos but I was too alarmed/scared/fascinated/trying not to scream to do anything. Kevin got really close. My hands were shaking as I tried to take photos.
As the lionesses killed the wildebeest by suffocation, a male started slowly pacing towards them/us.
As if I wasn’t scared enough. You can see the one lioness (the killer) has a full belly; after a few bites of the soft underbelly, she walked back to the bush where we originally saw her, panting heavily.
The other lioness wanted to eat, but the male roared at her to let go and then he dragged the approximately 550 lb carcass to the bush, moving right past our vehicle.
He had to pause in his exertions and would stare at us. I leaned further back in the vehicle still not screaming or filling my underpants while mentally calculating the best route to climb onto the roof of the Land Cruiser should the lion decide to approach us.
After he pulled the dead beast into some shade in a big bush, he started his lunch (typical–the females did all the work, but he eats first). We went to look at the zebras and wildebeest who were trying the classic area to cross or drink. Kevin said they don’t usually cross at this time of year, but the drought made them graze further than usual.
We watched the zebras, who called to each other, started to cross, and then the wildebeest followed. With my sharp eyes, I noticed that one wildebeest was stuck in the water. “No,” said Kevin, “a croc has him!”
We watched for a long while as the wildebeest struggled against a croc holding a back leg. Eventually another large croc grabbed the wildebeest’s face and pulled it under the water.
By the end, 6 crocodilles were swimming around the pool with the dead animal. But the largest croc would not let the others share. We left because Kevin thought this standoff of the dominant croc not sharing could go on all day.
But while the croc kill was happening, hippos adjacent in the river popped their eyes out of the water, and two males started to fight.
We then watched the zebras and wildebeests successfully cross further down the river.
Driving back, we saw ostriches.
Kevin complimented us on our patience waiting for the lion kill. He didn’t say anything about my uncanny lion spotting ability. Well, tomorrow is another safari day.