There is no better alarm call on a chilly Saturday morning than the sound of lions calling in the distance. The call was clear enough to cause me enquire over the radio as to the location of the lion pride before embarking on the short walk to camp. The resident pride is made up of 14 lions and one dominant male; I thought it best to avoid bumping into such a large group of expert hunters on my way to work.
We soon learned that the lion pride was feeding only 200 metres from the fence of the staff village, and when the guests returned we were given the details of an incredible sighting. The lions were tracked and discovered devouring an elephant that appeared to have been about a year old when it died. The carcass was fresh, but it is difficult to ascertain whether or not these lions killed the calf. With a kill of this nature we would expect to hear a great deal of noise from both the calf and its mother, but the night had been quiet, save the usual chorus of reed frogs. We also wondered where the elephant’s mother was, given that this calf had died very recently. It is likely that the death of this young elephant will remain a mystery.
Guests stayed with the lions for several hours, enjoying the sight of the youngest cub, approximately five months old, helping himself to the meal. The lions which I had heard calling were two senior pride females who were returning to join the feeding. After stripping the carcass of every last morsel, the lions began to play with the leg bones, providing for some striking and rather eerie photos.
We all walked with added caution that day, never sure where the pride was hiding. They were found again during the afternoon game drive, and by this morning they had moved towards Savuti, following the bank of the channel in search of food. In a fitting end to a day of lovely feline sightings, the handsome DumaTau Male leopard was spotted just after sunset, walking under the boardwalk that leads to Room 1 and evoking a cacophony of alarm calls from nearby impala.
My walk home last night was longer than usual; my ears and eyes were piqued to detect the slightest movement and disturbance in the grass. I was reminded once again that this patch of paradise belongs to creatures far stealthier than I – creatures that both terrify and delight us with their presence. I would not have it any other way.
Photos taken by DumaTau guide, Ona Basimane.