Lion vs Hippo

Whenever watching Animal planet, National geographic, Discovery or any wildlife program, there is always a sighting which really stands out above the rest and as a Ranger you’re hoping that someday you will be there to capture a similar unique moment with your camera…and today, it happened to me.

We left the lodge a bit earlier this morning to an area where the Lions were seen the previous evening, hoping to track them before they disappear into the thickets. Hiding, from the blazing African sun.

20 minutes into the drive, approaching the first waterhole, my tracker alerted me to a strange but violent sound, a call which neither of us is familiar with; a call from a young Hippo fighting for survival against a big Lioness.

We approached the area with caution and were amazed and shocked of this rare but unique moment… a single female Lion trying to overpower the brutal strength of this beast. Lions are opportunistic hunters and will overcome any animal of their size and even much larger prey when they are hunting as a pride, but are also alert of any canines or injury to themselves which will affect their hunting capabilities in the future.

The lion tried so hard to get to the vital parts of the Hippo but she failed to get him down. By this time the hippo was bleeding profusely but still he didn’t give up. After a few minutes of rough “fighting” the lion stood back just to “take a break”… I think at this time she realized that she couldn’t take down the hippo and then started calling for backup. There was no reply from any of her pride members and as harsh as the fight started as disappointingly it ended for the Lion. The hippo got away and the Lion moved on looking for easier prey.

She didn’t manage to kill the hippo, but she did leave a lot of painful scars on the thick skin of the young Hippo.

This was one of the moments I am glad that I had my camera…. Long live the Hippo

Story by: Joe Van Rensburg – Kapama River Lodge Ranger 

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Lion Kills Honey Badger

This morning my guests and I had the most amazing sighting! It easily fits into my top three sightings, (just under a Leopard killing a Duiker in front of the vehicle and then Lions chasing the Leopard off and eating the Duiker themselves.) We were following two sub-adult Lions, a male and a female, and our largest adult Lioness as they wandered and sniffed and enjoyed the crisp morning.

The young female started getting very alert and then her brother as well. The older female watched them but did not move from her course. Then the young female ran and pounced. Her brother followed and we started to hear strangling noises. As we came around the bushes, the young male had a two year old Honey Badger cub in its jaws. The Honey Badger was struggling, growling, and hissing but the Lion’s grip was too firm. The young female Lion was trying to get her paws and jaws on the Honey Badger’s mother but she was unsuccessful and she quickly gave up.

Finally, after about 10-15 minutes the male started eating the Honey Badger, being careful to keep it from the other two Lions. Then an awful stench permeated towards the vehicle. The Lion had punctured the Honey Badger’s anal sac. At this, he stopped eating and left the remainder. The adult Lioness, knowing all to well what was going on, started wandering back into the bushes, with the other two following.

Honey Badgers are known to be one of the most ferocious animals in the African Bush. The youngsters, however, are not as adept as the adults at getting away using teeth, claws, and a staunch stubbornness. I’m still in awe of what we saw this morning! Another fantastic and one of kind sighting at Kapama!

By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger

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Mating Lions

An exciting morning occurred today for myself and my guests. After tracking some Elephants with a fellow ranger and having a great sighting we then proceeded to try and see if we could see some Lions before the guests had to check out. We responded to a sighting of our large male Lion and one female, (the mother of the two one and half year old male and female sub-adults), who were busy mating.

Lions mate for three to four days at a time. The actual mating occurs for about 45 seconds and they will repeat this every few minutes. The male Lion’s penis is barbed which makes for an uncomfortable process for the female but insures that the copulation is a success for him. Afterwards there is much growling, snarling, and possibly a slap or two in the male’s direction. All of this makes both male and female very grumpy and somewhat unpredictable. 

Our male was particularly surly this morning as we approached the sighting, growling and lunging at the vehicle. We gave him and the female a wide berth which allowed them to relax and give my guests fantastic viewing and photo ops. After awhile we decided to leave and as we did the male, in his grumpy mood, decided to show us who is really King of the Bush!

Great photos in hand, smiles on faces, and adrenaline going, my guests and I left the two honeymooners to themselves.

By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger

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Intruder Alert

This afternoon’s game drive turned out to be a cracker with our first sighting of the afternoon being two lions, a large male and an unusually large female, lazing the afternoon away in a river bed under the shade. As we were watching the lions I noticed movement about five meters away from the lions so while my guests attention was focused on the lions I looked to see what the movement was, to my surprise it was a puff adder moving across the river bed, most likely out and about looking for a mate as this is the time of year when breeding in puff adders takes place. Definitely a highlight of the afternoon.   

By: Ryan Roodt – River Lodge Ranger

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Lion Walk By

Our Lions here at Kapama are used to the vehicles, guests and all, and usually carry one with business as usual, despite all the rain we’ve been having. There have been some fantastic sightings of our Lions recently. The other night my guests and I were treated to a sighting of two of the sub-adult Lions, (one male and one female), wrestling and playing up and down a dry riverbed while their mother tried in vain to get them intertested in hunting. The next night we found the two of them again, but this time they were busy finishing off a young warthog they had just killed and moving up and down calling for their mother. The four three year old Lionesses have been busy hunting as well having killed a Wildebeest a few days ago.

By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger

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Battle of the Super-Predators – and Rhinos to the Rescue!

Yesterday morning my guests and I witnessed an incredible sighting. We heard audio of our large male Lion and went to investigate. As we got visual of the male and our largest Lioness we noticed a large male Leopard up a tree. Lions and Leopard do NOT get along. Lions will kill Leopard and Leopard cubs and Leopard will kill Lion cubs.

The two Lions were under the tree harassing and roaring at the Leopard. About three minutes later a Crash of three Rhino wandered into our sighting, a male and two female, and started chasing the Lions away. The Leopard jumped down out of the tree and tried to jump into another tree but missed. As the Leopard missed the Lioness grabbed the Leopard by the rump and the Rhino came and chased the Lion off again.

The Leopard ran off, perused by the Lions the whole while. He climbed another tree trying to escape but only reached a small branch where he was very uncomfortable. The Lions started roaring again and the Leopard jumped down and there was nowhere to run, being caught between both Lions. The male Lion caught the Leopard but the Leopard fought back. Then again the Rhinos chased the Lions and the Leopard managed to escape and run off into the bush!

An incredible, once in a lifetime sighting at Kapama that my guests and I will never forget! (Thank you Sebastian for the FANTASTIC photos to add to our story!)

(Above: My VERY happy and excited guests.)

By: Michael Mabuye – River Lodge Ranger

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