There are a number of resident lion coalitions and prides on Africa on Foot and nThambo’s traverse. These are the local battle-scarred kings and queens that have staked their claim on the land around camps, and frequently put on award-winning shows for guests. The ever-shifting pride dynamics ensure things are never static with our lions, and we’re often gifted with sightings of newcomers exploring the possibility of new kingdoms and prides to take over.
The ever-present Ross Pride, the confident Mbiri males and the robust Hercules females are the usual suspects that make up the bulk of the Klaserie lion sightings. On occasion, the River Pride have made a grand entrance and delighted guides with a few memorable moments. Sightings of this much-talked pride about appear to be on the increase, which would explain the dwindling sightings of the Mbiris and Ross Pride over the past 6 weeks. If the presence of one pride increases, a previously established pride might choose to retreat somewhat. We’re pretty sure things will shift again in the next few weeks – it always does!
It is remarkably easy for guides and trackers to identify commonly spotted lions, but when lions cross over from neighbouring properties or wander in from the Kruger National Park, it requires research to establish their origin. Sometimes a bit of back-and-forth with guides from other camps and chats with known lion experts in the area helps to establish who’s who.
A pride unknown to the Klaserie guides was recently spotted feasting and gorging on a giraffe kill. There’s speculation that this pride could be the Bateleur Pride, numbering at 9 members, but that’s yet to be confirmed. The Klaserie team spotted about 4/5 lions sharing the kill. There were thoughts that they might be a split-off from the River Pride, but they were actually located in another area at the same time that this “unknown” pride was snacking on their giraffe kill.
Guide Mauritz says, “We haven’t seen this pride often, and this is about the second time I’ve personally seen them. They are quite skittish”.
The pride provided the perfect lion kill sighting, with powerful paws eagerly pushing the carcass into the perfect position to access the meaty bits. Bone-crushing jaws could be seen grappling with sinew and muscle, ensuring the carcass was completely devoured. At a kill site it’s always a show and there’s normally drama, tragedy and brutal behaviour that accompanies meal time.
While the lions were moving back and forth over a period of 3 days, the hyenas began their standard behaviour of circling the outskirts of the carcass. The vultures descended upon the location, entertaining onlookers with their comical dancing. A journey of giraffe appeared in the background, seemingly to confirm that one of their own had left the earthly realm.
Videographer Rogan says, “The pride hit the jackpot when they pulled a large female giraffe to the ground. A meal like this can last them days if they can keep the scavengers away. This was certainly going to be a challenge. We knew there was a kill from a mile away when we spotted scores of Hooded and White-Backed vultures looming in the trees above. Below them the hyenas were skulking around the bushes hoping they might get a piece of the action.
While we watched the cats tuck into their prize, a pair of giraffe stepped out into the clearing, peering thoughtfully at their fallen comrade. The lions were too busy filling their bellies to bother about them, which allowed the giraffe to pay their respects, and move quietly on their way”
A few days later, Rogan filmed the lions and the scavengers finishing up the remnants of the kill.
He says, “Day three on the giraffe kill and the lions were still chewing on the bones. Despite there not being much meat left, they kept close guard of the carcass refusing to share it with any of the hopeful scavengers. Bellies full, they moved into the shade for a rest, opening a window of opportunity for the hyenas waiting eagerly in the sidelines.
Unfortunately for the hyenas, the lions weren’t ready to lose what was left of their meal and relentlessly defended it against the hyenas advances. They stayed in the kill well past sunset. When we returned in the morning they had moved on and the tenacious scavengers had stripped what was left to the bare bones”
We’ll update our readers when we establish the accurate ID of these incredible big cats.