Wildlife: Lions Crossing Luangwa

14th September 2016

There is something special about watching animals navigate through open water. Perhaps it's the beauty of the reflections, or perhaps the possibility that there will be an altercation with a hidden crocodile, or perhaps simply the noise that they make when seeking a safe path through. Whatever it is, I love to watch animals crossing rivers and lagoons, and take time to ensure we get into the best spot for photos.

Perhaps most exciting of all is when lions choose to paddle through the main Luangwa River. While they cross frequently, we don't often see it as they do so in the very early morning when hippos are out grazing and the crocodiles are cold and pose less threat.

This week though, we have enjoyed two great sightings! The first was two large male lions from the Hollywood pride who crossed towards us from the Nsefu Sector while I was leading a safari from Lion Camp - full report soon!







They had come across the water to check out a female who is just beginning to come into oestrus. They chased her around relentlessly (she was checking their fitness levels!) and finally they spent some time resting under a tree. That same night they crossed back over the river again!

The second sighting was less easy to explain. We were watching Carmine Bee-eaters when a baboon started to bark. Looking back up the river, we saw a lionness, who'd been hidden in the grass, mid-stream and heading to the other side.

We rushed around and caught the remaining 4 as they came to the edge, clambered down and paddled carefully across.



As always, lions growl in fear before crossing the water, hoping to intimidate any crocodiles that are nearby. It's easy to see that this is a necessary, but not enjoyable, experience for them!





The strange thing was that the lionesses crossed, greeted each other in relief, and lay down in the sand. A few moments later one of them re-crossed and lay back down in the grass where she had been an hour before! I guess there are some things that we can't explain!

Comments

Photo comment By Marlies: Absolutely amazing! Thank you Ed for the story and terrific photos. Looking forward to the full report.
Photo comment By Edward Selfe: Marlies - thank you for reading and commenting. It was a fun trip and we all enjoyed. The group was great too - which always helps! Ed

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