Early one morning I set out with a few eager guests just as the morning rays were breaking through the trees. It was clear from the crisp air that it was going to be a beautiful day. Sometimes it is good simply to be out in the African sunshine and to appreciate the little things. We were all excited to experience what the game drive had in store.
We headed out towards one of the vast open areas that characterized the beauty of the Kapama Game Reserve. We stopped at a few of the dams in the area, admiring the birds. A baby hippo and his mother gave us quite a show. We then set out towards the plains to try and find some bigger game. My guests had never seen such a vast array of animals before. As we admired the herbivores and saw how they interacted with each other, a call came through from another safari tour. The ranger had spotted the Guernsey lionesses not too far away from where we were. The pride was feasting on a zebra carcass they had killed the night before. I kept it in mind and decided to respond to the call later on when the light was more in our favour.
After driving around for a while longer, seeing zebra and giraffe, we started towards where the lionesses had been spotted. I hadn’t told my guests that’s where we were headed. By now the light was perfect.
Coming over the horizon, the excitement was tangible as we got closer to the scene in front of us. We couldn’t see the kill just yet, but the other lionesses were sprawled out on the grass with their legs in the air and their fat stomachs looking like they were about to burst. The lionesses had hidden their kill behind a bush for protection against the scavengers that were already circling.
Lioness with zebra carass
One of the females, still feeding on the carcass, was surveying the scene like a criminal investigator. She was eating as much as she could before she too passed out in the sun. As she was getting comfortable next to her sisters, a colony of vultures landed behind us. They were stealthily making their way towards the area of the kill. Suddenly one of the vultures landed on another’s back and made a horrible screech. The lionesses were up in an instant, and quickly made their way back to their meal. The dominant female tried her best to protect the kill by chasing away the jackals and vultures.
There was complete silence from our vehicle as we watched this amazing spectacle unfold. The female looked back at the pride and flicked her ears. Suddenly, she launched herself towards the vultures. She ran out into the plains, scattering the scavengers into the sky. The vultures knew that they needed to abandon their idea of moving in on the carcass.
Once she was satisfied that the threat was over, she moved the kill to a safer place, but the rest of her pride had already moved back into the shade, convinced that she had everything under control. She pulled the carcass between her legs towards a more secure spot. We decided to leave them be as we had already witnessed something spectacular.
The lionesses had worked hard to get the food they need to survive, and would stop at nothing in order to keep it for themselves – leaving nothing but scraps for every other animal wanting in on their bounty.
We returned to the lodge, all of us in awe. It had definitely turned out to be a beautiful day at Camp Jabulani!