Wildlife: An awesome weekend...

02nd September 2013
We spent last weekend up at Lion Camp in the north of the park where I run some of my photo safaris during the year (have a look at the link at the top of the page for more info). This is the very best time of year for photography as there's lots of game around and not yet too much dust in the atmosphere. But we weren't prepared for the amazing weekend that we had.

We left camp early on the first morning, and very soon after found a pair of male lions, the pride males for the Hollywoods, a group of lions well known for their good looks and many film appearances. The light was low, and slightly dispersed, giving lovely backlit effects on their manes. They had kindly chosen a small mound to lie on so we could get level with them.







After spending lots of time with them, we moved on to the open plains behind the camp, taking in the sights of elephants and buffaloes crossing the plain in the morning sunshine.









On top of one of the Combretum thickets, we found this Namaqua Dove which sat obligingly for us.



Following this, we found another pride of lions - 17 this time - who were trying to hunt a giraffe. By this point, the light was very bright so I didn't take any photos, but just enjoyed the view!

That evening, we spent some time hunting down a Lilac-breasted Roller to photograph against the golden grasses that fill the dambos.



The following morning, we returned to the area where we'd left the large pride the previous day and found that they'd just killed a buffalo.



While they were feeding, and not in a good photographic situation, we watched the vultures and enjoyed taking snaps of this Hooded Vulture who was hoovering up lion dung - one of their most endearing behaviours.



Without warning, suddenly several of the pride stood up and stared intently across the river. We looked with binoculars and couldn't see anything initially, but eventually resolved 2 male lions from a neighbouring pride walking along the top of the opposite river bank. They appeared interested in the buffalo kill and the females feeding on it. But they looked young and we assumed that they were aware of how unevenly matched they would be if they challenged the males with the large pride. Some of the pride began to call to affirm territorial claim and the young males lay down, apparently thinking again about approaching.

Soon enough though, one of the young males began to descend the river bank and wade across the river towards us. (I didn't get photos because I was repositioning the vehicle in case the second male followed.) After crossing, he pranced along the bank, feigning indifference at the 19 pairs of eyes glowering at him.



After walking about 100m he settled down and lay still.



One of the large males dropped down from the bank near the buffalo and began approaching the young male from behind.



The youngster was aware of his presence but chose to stay still. We could barely believe that he would allow the larger male to reach his position but he did, and a short but fairly brutal fight followed.







Having beaten the youngster, he chased him off down the sand not relenting until the imposter had re-crossed the river 800m away. Having confirmed that he'd gone, he returned to the pride, but was panting too much to continue feeding!



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