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
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
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
To watch predators hunt is always a magical sight, but hardly ever do you get the chance to see the actual kill. Some of us can’t always stomach to see a poor defenseless impala getting dragged down by a ferocious lion, but it happens.
The morning started off very quite with a few birds displaying their colors and aerial agility and a few impala rams running around getting ready for the mating season. As I came around a dam wall Magnum my tracker could hear a troop of baboons high up in a tree alarming at something they have spotted. We quickly raced around to the opposite side of the block to find three lions walking down the road, a mother and two sub adults
While following them back the way we came, we realized that there was a group of Impala grazing not to far from where they are now and started to explain what could happen if the lions caught scent of the Impala. I was still talking when suddenly the lions stopped and stared into the bush about 40m in front of them. One by one the lions moved off the road and into cover. I continued forward until we had visual of both the lions and Impala. The mother was leading the hunt with the rest reforming on either side of her.
Very slowly, as if everything was put into slow motion, the lions crept forward.
With her cold piercing eyes focusing on the herd of Impala the leading female froze. She is only 15m meters from a young Impala calf unaware of its impending fate lurking behind cover. It was like the volume was turned right down at this moment, the tension was thick and everyone was on the edge of their seats waiting. The lioness was set like a sprinter waiting for the gun to go, muscles bulging, body flinching with excitement…..
One last calculation and she’s off, two steps and she was around her cover. Each footstep was perfectly placed, each turn was calculated, she’s gaining ground on the Impala that has by now seen the danger and was trying to flee. She swipes at the rump with an outstretched claw and hits the Impala off balance, within seconds she was at the throat and……silence.
By: Rob Brouard – River Lodge Ranger
As guides we are always asked “How often do you see The Kill”. This is a tricky question to answer because the vegetation, time of day, species and mainly luck all play a role. Many times we are able to watch hunts, but to actually see one of Africa’s Big Cats grab hold of something is very rare. Usually we watch them stalk, allowing the animals plenty of room, and keep the noise and lights to a minimum. Fortunately the prey animals at Kapama are just as used to us as the cats are and don’t associate us with danger, so our impact on the success or failure of a hunt is minimal. Once they are in range or are in the perfect ambush spot it is just a question of patience. This can mean sitting for 2 minutes or half an hour until a sudden explosive rush and then a mad scramble through the bush by predator and prey at speeds that have to be seen to be believed. By the time we catch up with the action it is usually all over, one way or the other.
All that said, sometimes it just all comes together. So on a bright, clear summer afternoon we were able to watch a lioness stalk and kill a warthog in the open. The hapless warthog had no idea that its time was up and that the lioness had positioned herself perfectly ahead of its path. The grass was just so long after our summer rain that the Warthog simply did not see the lion until she walked within a meter of it. The lesson learned was that if you can’t see where you’re going, don’t go there!
These pictures are stills taken off a video, and though not clear, tell the story better.
Mike Kirkman-Senior Ranger,Kapama Karula
Today I was lucky enough to see two of our sub adult lions playing around and irritating a mother rhino and her calf. The whole thing started when we were following the two youngsters and their mom. The lioness walked straight past our vehicle and laid down for a rest. Quite a distance into the bush we noticed two rhinos standing, starting to settle down for the night. This off course got the attention of the 2 sub adults and brother and sister started stalking the rhinos side by side. Seeing that it was already dark and rhinos in general don’t have good eye sight the lions got to right next to them. The next moment the two jumped on the backs of the rhinos, holding on for dear life. (They did not make 8 seconds). The rhinos quickly got rid of the two inexperienced lions on their backs and stood back to back facing the lions. This game carried on for a few minutes before the rhinos decided that enough was enough and they chased the youngsters away.
I was sitting there still trying to take it all in when I suddenly realized: We’re the only real danger here. Although careful of the lions, the rhinos were never really scared or in danger at any stage. The only danger to them is the humans. They walk past us every day and don’t even realize that they are staring their biggest enemy in the face.
The number of rhinos poached in 2010 was 333. In March 2011 we’re already standing on 62. Where is this going? Will there be any rhinos left in a few years from now? I don’t think we realize how big this problem is and that it needs to stop. Where I used to just drive past a rhino and think that I’ll still see many, I now stop, look and appreciate.
By: Marilize Minaar – River Lodge Ranger