The steam rose as it escaped from the warm bodies of the felines only to fade into eternity as it met the first rays that fell upon the dramatic scene. The low growls were synonymous with an event that has transpired for centuries passed. The eternal battle between lion and buffalo.
The buffalo bull’s boss was draped downward with his muzzle anchored in the soil. A symbolic ‘bowing’ gesture towards the lions that were now gorging themselves on the rump of the freshly killed bovine. What a chaotic scene it must’ve been mere hours before. The lions must’ve sneaked up on the ageing buffalo bull while he was resting. Two male lions on his one side, 2 adult females on his other. A bite to his rump and tail would’ve swung him around to face his attackers. Another bite to his flank preluded the feeling he was dreading, the feeling of 4 sets of claws digging into his back. This is probably when he got that second breath and adrenalin kicked in. Twirling and swinging viciously, he might’ve managed to shrug the 240 kg's of muscle only to have it replaced with another.
A relentless attack. A hungry attack. Another bite to the tail might’ve penetrated the skin and connected with the spine. A moment of paralysis wherein the old campaigner’s hips dipped and sagged to the ground. Just what the lions were waiting for. A trio of tawny shapes leaped onto his back and the lead lioness probably went for his muzzle.
The beginning of the end. Every belated attempt to get up after this must’ve sapped his already diminishing energy levels. The clasp around his muzzle got tighter and tighter. The prospect of a 4 day meal driving the lions to overcome fatigue and pain. Soon it was over. A hooded vulture swoops low over the lions, a quick survey of the carcass before he lands in a leafless Marula (Sclerocarya birrea).
With stomachs already bulging and looks of utter contentment splashed across their faces, the Skukuza Pride fed off this massive buffalo bull over the next few days. Some amazing vulture and hyena viewing was observed around the carcass. Day by day we watched as they toiled away at their feast. Gluttony at its greatest.
The lifeblood of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is without a doubt the Sand River. Winter signals the dry season in the Lowveld which means that herds of animals flock daily to this perennial water source to quench their thirst. Where the prey venture, the predators are sure to follow. This was merely one of an array of predator sightings we experienced on our Private Photographic Safari to Kirkman’s Kamp.
Watch this space for the rest…
Posted: Kirkman's Kamp by Jacques-Pierre Joubert, Date: 25 July 2012