We had been following lion tracks on the evening game drive the night before, and eventually found them at Scott’s Pan. When we first arrived at the pan, there were only two males and one female visible. We sat patiently watching them, hoping that the late afternoon would galvanise them into some kind of action that Mike could photograph before the light faded completely. Behind us, a herd of eland made their way towards the pan. The wind was in favour of the lioness and she picked up the scent immediately. With that, another two curious heads popped up – more lionesses.
Insanely, more heads popped up from the golden grass – little heads too, and this meant that the entire pride was lazing around Scott's Pan. Sixteen lions in total! Lions are not necessarily the best hunters, and especially not when there are cubs around that can be clumsy and give away the advantage of surprise. The males are even more of a hindrance – especially when they are trying to mate with a female in the pride. Unsurprisingly, all this chaos resulted in the eland deciding to scoot past the pan off to other pastures.
Daylight faded to night and we made our way back to Davison's. In the cold early hours of morning, just before dawn, we heard the hypnotic calls of the male lions. The sound drew closer and just as the sun was thinking of throwing some light from the east, the calls grew louder urging us to able to make out shapes as the light warmed in the sky. The intoxicating aroma of coffee mingled with the reverberating deep roars of the male lions, and the females' answering calls. It was a cacophony. The whole pride from the night before had made their way from Scott’s Pan to Davison's Camp!
But we could not understand the incessant calling until the mystery unfolded and another lioness arrived from far off. She had come to greet her sisters and they were happy to see her. There was head rubbing, nudging and body hugs – and lots of calling. The males, however, did not like the intrusion and they tried to chase her off. We were still sitting on the new open deck in front of the camp and they seemed to be running straight for us. We sat absolutely still. They stopped a fair distance from us and we took the opportunity to creep back into the main area, round the back and up the stairs to the new viewing deck. From here we could safely view the family drama that played out in this pride. It was spectacular. If I think about it now, I can still feel the vibration of those deep guttural roars in the pit of my chest, deep down into my heart.