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Drama at Ngamo


Soukous
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Three days into my stay at Ngamo and I still haven't seen any cats. I've heard them during the night and a couple of the guides reported seeing fresh tracks but no actual sightings yet.

Perhaps it was down to the cold wind blowing across the Ngamo plains but we were lacking a bit of urgency this morning; still dawdling over breakfast when we should have been out and about. Sibs had left with his clients an hour earlier, but here we were still enjoying the warmth of Camelthorn's dining room and excellent coffee.

 

That all changed when Butch burst into the room.

“Come on, Come on, Sibs has found some lions on a kill. Don't worry about your bags (we were moving to a different lodge today) I'll get them loaded and catch you up.”

 

We didn't need much persuading and were all on our feet and out of the door within about 30 seconds. Poor Helen had only just sat down and barely had time to grab a sausage from her plate as she joined the exodus.

 

Vusa, who was waiting outside with the engine running, told us it would take about 20 minutes to get to where Sibs had seen the lions. It actually took us 25 minutes because we had to stop at the gate and sign in.

With a cold wind scouring the plains, the sun struggling to break through the clouds and Vusa driving a bit faster than normal game drive speed, it was a chilly ride.

 

As always seems to happen, when I am in a hurry to get somewhere there is game everywhere. Intent on getting to the lions we passed herds of wildebeest and eland without slowing down.

A few hundred metres ahead we saw a small group of zebras staring intently at something. Almost simultaneously I spotted two lionesses lying out in the open; but it was not the lionesses that held the zebras attention. They were far more interested in the two male lions lying just by the tree line; with the remains of a wildebeest carcass.

 

Vusa edged closer and turned off the engine. No sooner had he done so than the smaller/younger of the two males got up and walked in amongst the trees and flopped down.

 

The remaining male was not doing much, just lying beside the kill.

 

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If things stayed like this it was not going to be a particularly exciting sighting.

 

Just as we were about to resign ourselves to watching lions doing nothing something attracted the attention of the remaining male.

It was one of the females coming to feed on the carcass.

 

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The male lion was clearly unhappy about this and started growling ominously. No sooner had the female stuck her head into the carcass than the male got up and tried to pull the carcass towards him.

 

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The volume of the growling from both lions had risen when the male suddenly lunged at the lioness. Surprisingly she did not back off and we watched them wrestling over the carcass.

 

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This attracted the attention of the other male who came back to watch.

 

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This was no play fight, they were really going at each other.

 

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The lioness seemed to be holding her ground when the second male joined the fray, attacking her from behind.

 

 

This drew in the second female who tried to help her sister.

 

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It didn't last long. The arrival of he second lioness spurred the two males to greater aggression and it was only moments before both females retreated, chastened and unhappy.

 

For the male lions to be completely unwilling to share the kill was unusual, particularly as they were no longer feeding and it would almost certainly have been the lionesses that had made the kill.

 

Having asserted their superiority, and with the lionesses licking their wounds (literally) the younger of the males lay down and fixed his unblinking gaze upon us.

 

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One or two people in the vehicle found this quite unnerving – it was only a few days earlier that a guide in Hwange had been charged and killed by a lion.

 

To further assert his ownership of the carcass, the other male decided that now would be a good time to drag it off into the trees.

 

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It had been a pretty intense few minutes. What had seemed like ages had lasted just 13 minutes – according to the time stamps on my photographs.

 

As we drove away there was a good deal of sympathy expressed for the lionesses.

 

To give you an idea of how close we were, I was using a 70-200mm lens and most shots were taken between 70-90mm

It was a pretty gloomy morning with no direct sunlight and ISO was around 1000.

F8 and 1/640s

Edited by Soukous
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Very exciting event; the sounds must have been impressive as you were so close.

 

Given the stare of the male lion at the end I can understand your companions concern. To me it clearly says ' don't you try it either'.

 

A memorable sighting and great series of images. Thanks.

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What a lovely series of photos, they really capture the drama.

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What a good sighting and a nice set of photo's.

 

You mention the noise the lions made...for me, this is the thing that nothing short of being there can replicate.

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What a great sighting I really hope I get to see AND HEAR this sort of activity in three weeks time. I think the sounds are what will make the big difference as these can't be reproduced in your excellent images and there must be smells as well to look forward to in my first safari.

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You are absolutely right about the smells of the African bush @@Big Andy. Some are less than pleasant, but others are wonderful - make sure you smell fresh elephant dung - trust me on this, it is great.

 

Good or bad smells, they all add to the experience.

Edited by Whyone?
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What a thrilling sighting and set of photographs. And with most shots taken at 70-90mm, that was pretty close!

 

Another fine example of the unpredictability of safaris and wildlife. Just when you think it is going to be an uneventful, dare I say boring, game drive, something extraordinary happens!

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You arrived just in time! Great sequence; you've really captured the intensity of the lions.

 

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The face of the lion in the background is highly amusing to me.

Edited by Marks
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there - I cant see your name any where on the post - is it Soukous?

 

Your post brought back great memories as my wife and I had 5 wonderful days at Bomani Lodge ( and we visited Camelthorn which is very close) just 12 months ago. A great sequence. I have a strong suspision these are the same lions we saw on a number of occasions - they were three young male and a female - the three males had been christened The Bomani Boys by Vusa who was our fantastic guide. We were very fortunate and saw lions on most days though others who had been for days saw none. Seems its the luck of the draw sometimes or the guide you have perhaps!

 

The Ngamo area in Hwange is superb and we saw lots of great wildlife during our stay.

 

The link below is to a video I produced about our time at Bomani and Hwange and features some lion footage

 

 

Thanks for sharing your pics!

 

Cheers

 

David Taylor

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@@theplainswanderer

 

Exceptional video and photos! It made my heart sing. I will be in Hwange next July at Somalisa and Goliath camps. Loved watching your smooth transitions between scenes. Thank you for sharing your lovely video.

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Fascinating squabble. Those gals need to remember this incident when it comes time to mate.

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  • 2 months later...

What a great pictures and what an experience that must have been! Currently planning a trip to Hwange, can only dream to see anything that comes close to this.

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