As the new season begins Shumba guide Isaac Kalio reports on the eternally fascinating swamp lion dynamics in Kafue National Park’s Busanga Plains…
With racing hearts we arrived back in the Busanga Plains in the first week of May after the summer inundation – not knowing what to expect or what we’d see. We arrived at Twin Palms and were met by our friends who dedicate the season to looking after our lodges in the most difficult of times during the rains. There were a lot of big smiles after not seeing each other in a long time.
As we were being ferried to camp I couldn’t wait to ask if they had seen any lions.
One of the guys said to me, “You and your lions, Isaac! But yes, lions were seen around February before the high water came in – but since then we have only heard them roaring in the distance.”
We arrived at Shumba and the area was completely covered by water – the amazing beauty of it all just impossible to describe.
Within a few days we were exploring the plains in readiness for Shumba’s opening. We opened up the channels and had a good look at who was around. We didn’t see lion at first, but the area is teeming with amazing birds, hippo, lechwe, puku, buffalo and crocodiles. Twice we even bumped into elephants crossing the channels.
Our nights were spent with our heads cocked to the windows to try and catch the sound of the lions at night. We heard them, but from far.
On the morning of the 3rd June, Newton took his first boat trip of the season with guests. He came back claiming he had seen new male lions. I told him to shut up!
The next morning he came back with a photo, but still I couldn’t believe it. I said I wouldn’t until I’d seen them with my own eyes.
Machine’s twin male cubs were sighted in several locations, appearing to run away from the new strangers. Busanga Bush Camp guide Sam saw the nomads fighting Queen and since then she has disappeared. Machine has not been spotted yet and we hope she and Queen have managed to raise their cubs from last season – it could be the reason they have not been seen.
Then today, the 10th June, I was finally able to believe my eyes - the new boys are real! They are here, and were seen on a kill north of Busanga Bush Camp across the Lufupa Channel, far from the twins.
One of the new males with Maggie
And what’s more, seen with these two nomads were Princess and Maggie!
A new 'boy' on the Plains!
Reports from Musanza guides are that Shy has relocated to their area and taken over the pride. I am not surprised as last year he was seen there before his big fight with Beast, returning in that direction after the fight.
Machine's twin boys
My dear friends I am sharing this report with mixed emotions, wondering who will be the next King of Busanga. Many questions remain unanswered… where did Slit and Mohawk (ex Musanza) go? Where is Blonde? Where is Beast?
Time will tell…
Written by Isaac Kalio; photographed by Newton Mulenga
To refresh your memory regarding the Busanga lion dynasty, read Shumba’s last news roundup of the 2017 season here.