Wildlife: Lions in our Garden...

02nd March 2015
We always take care when walking around outside because we live very close to the National Park. In fact, there is a lot of wildlife living on our side of the river, even thought it's not actually National Park. So it is with a small pride of 5 lions which have been seen (and heard!) on several occasions around our house and in the nearby area. I have often seen lion foot prints outside our house in the mornings - 2 large sets belonging to the pride's females and then the marks of the 3 cubs following behind.

It was not surprise then, that on Saturday morning we found that the pride had killed a giraffe during the night, only 300 yards from our house. It's not the first time that they've killed giraffe, choosing to chase youngsters up against a bank or other natural obstactle. In this case they had caught it in thick bushes at the bottom of the bank. When we went out to have a look, only one female was feeding on the carcass. The mother of the cubs had taken them away because they feel more vulnerable in daylight.





The following morning, I found one female and one cub feeding on the carcass and then met the other two cubs with their mother on the tarmac. They had clearly had a good night of eating!







As I approached, they disappeared into the grass, but couldn't resist having a little look at me through the vegetation as I passed.





Heading out into the park, almost immediately I found another pride of 5 lions - in fact, they found us, as they chased a zebra across the road right in front of us!



Disgusted with their failure, they looked longingly at the disappearing zebra, and then settled down in the soft grass. Cloudy days are great for photos as the harsh shadows are removed and the light is beautifully diffused.



The local zebra population was keeping a close eye on the lions, resting only when the predators had disappeared into the grass to sleep through the heat of the day.



Birds are also a great subject on cloudy days as the blacks don't get too dark and it's easy to maintain detail in the whites at the same time - a good example is this visiting Jacobin Cuckoo who comes to Luangwa in the rains to breed. They mate and then lay their eggs in the nests of Dark-capped Bulbuls who then raise the young.



Nearby, an impala spied me for a long time.......



.....and some Southern Ground Hornbills preened themselves in a large tree.



On my way home, near the road, one of this year's zebra foals was following Mum around. The soft green grasses make a stunning backdrop the zebra stripes, and I find that most of my best zebra photos are from this time of year.


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