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THE SMELL OF DEATH


PHALANX
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Samburu in July, after the rains, is a proverbial garden of Eden. The landscape changes dramatically from being semi arid into a verdant oasis with an abundance of grasses & foliage for the game to feed upon.The Elephant herds which left the area at the height of the dry season return, their numbers bolstered by new born calves, and even the greater Kudu come down from the surrounding hills. The whole reserve springs into life and at this time the birdlife is prolific.

During a morning game drive we picked up on the smell of a dead animal. We were following a track which ran parallel with the river. The smell was getting stronger the further along we drove. The breeze was coming from the rivers direction so we followed a track that looped and took us closer to the river. Stopping half way we could see in a small open area the cause of the smell.

There were two of them, big males, feeding leisurely. One had his head inside of the victims underbelly while the other was feeding on a large piece of meat. The Lion on, or should I say in, the kill started backing away pulling a large piece of flesh from within the victims belly. His light coloured mane was darkened with the blood of the young Elephant. It must have been several days since they had made the kill but they had devoured most of the abdomen, in contrast their bellies were bulging.

We returned the next day, and as we approached we could see the top of an Elephants head & back. We stopped in the same spot and the Elephant, a female, was standing just to the right of the dead Elephant, swaying slightly side to side. We could not see the lions anywhere, we assumed she must have chased them away. After about fifteen minutes she raised her trunk into the air in our direction, was she picking up on our scent or could she still smell the Lions? Suddenly she let out an enormous trumpeting and half charged towards us. We were at least 3meters above where she was, was it us she was angry with? No, it was the Lions who were right below us in the scrub. She trumpeted again and this time charged in earnest. The two Lions appeared at speed from beneath us running off through the bush to the right. The Elephant did not pursue them but turned and walked slowly to where the dead Elephant lay, her trunk reaching out towards the lifeless body. By chance I looked towards the rear of our vehicle and saw one of the Lions appear from the bush. He walked around the rear of the vehicle and as he did he defecated, rather loosely, no doubt because of the shock of the Elephant charge and the close call it was. The other Lion appeared from the bushes a little further back and they both moved off together, no doubt to return later as there was still a lot of meat on the carcass.

The Elephant must have been the dead calf's mother. Standing over her youngster she gently touched and meticulously examined every inch of what remained. It was such a sad scene and she looked so forlorn. We felt like we were intruding so we left her to mourn as only Elephants do. Over the next few days the remains of the carcass was devoured and the Vultures did the rest.

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a touching sad scene; I don't think I would have been half as steady at that moment as you were @@PHALANX. such a privilege to watch the adult female saying her farewells.

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So many touching and intense elements to this encounter. Wow!

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