The Chobe River forms the northern border of Botswana, separating Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, and flowing into the Zambezi River forming the border with Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is a hub of wildlife activity throughout the year, even when the rains arrive in summer and the mass of congregating game disperses. This is a time for the predators to shine, preying on the slow or injured animals. Survival of the fittest is the healthiest existence of the natural world, and we are privileged to see it at work. On a November trip to Chobe with John Chase Safaris, the rains had just begun, bringing relief to the dry soil, and offering ample opportunities for lions to feast!
Setting off from the luxury mobile camp in the bush, guests knew they were heading off to revisit the Chobe Riverfront where pride of 10 lions were enjoying a buffalo carcass. There had been a huge herd of buffalo present at the river overnight, and the lions had struck while the iron was hot, successfully taking down a single buffalo. Cameras were glued to faces, as guests clicked away to capture the magnificent scene, when a couple of the younger lions appeared to take an interest in a lone buffalo far away on the floodplain…
As some lions continued to feed on the still-meaty carcass, one, two, and then three lions crossed the shallow river and began to trot towards the buffalo in the distance. Noticing the activity and realising that the lions were indeed following through with a chase, guests whipped out their binoculars and focused on the predators across the water. The lions bounded up to the buffalo, which turned its menacing horns in an attempt to counterattack, and the onlookers in the game viewer gasped as the action took place through magnified lenses.
The young lions were assumed to be too inexperienced, or too weak, to take on such a large and formidable animal without the strength of the pride, but to everyone’s shock and surprise, two lions applied what they have been taught from a young age: one clawed at the rump of the buffalo, while another went for the throat. The weight of the two lions, and the threat of the third lion catching on soon proved too much for the buffalo, and it went down without much more of a fight.
It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to witness the instinctual act of a kill in the African wilderness, and even veterans of the bush count themselves lucky to watch something like this take place. The buffalo was weak after a long drought, and was clearly lagging behind the herd, giving the opportunistic hunters no option but to go for the kill. What a memorable vision on the floodplains of the Chobe River with John Chase Safaris!