The thrill of the chase



Your Guide to Africa

Janine Avery


A round-up of epic wildlife hunts

Nature's drama unfolds every day and the thrill of watching a kill play out in front of you is something that captivates both seasoned wildlife enthusiasts and first-timers on safari. Each wild pursuit is a testament to the raw power, instinct, and survival skills of both predators and prey. And watching these life-and-death moments as they unfold are heart-pounding, emotional and awe-inspiring.


Whether a chase ends in a triumphant catch or a narrow escape, it’s a sighting that’s bound to be filled with emotion and suspense. You may find yourself torn, rooting for the prey's desperate bid for freedom, while simultaneously cheering on the predator's relentless determination to feed its young. Either way, this is the raw, unfiltered reality of nature.

In this blog, we bring you a curated collection of some of our staff and guests’ most epic wildlife encounters, showcasing nature's hunters in action.

Lions take on giraffes in the desert

“We were on an afternoon drive at Wilderness Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp when we came across two lionesses close to the camp. As we were observing them, two giraffes came past and stopped. They stood looking at the lionesses for about 15 minutes, and then all the sudden the lionesses chased the giraffes. One was nearly caught, but unfortunately, or fortunately depending on whose perspective you are looking at it from, the giraffe got away. Either way, it was great to see the lionesses and giraffes in action. Wilderness Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp will always surprise you with the best sightings in the Namibian desert”. – Abner Simeon, Wilderness Namibia guide

Lions take on giraffes in the desert

As part of Wilderness’ impact strategy to help collect data and map lion movements in Namibia, we support the Desert Lion Conservation Programme researchers in their quest to collar and monitor selected lions for their further protection.

Big cats take on a little cat in Botswana

“One of the waitrons at Wilderness Savuti spotted a lion from the dining room. Her excitement was heart-warming, to know no matter how long you work in the wild – it never gets old! We were on a vehicle within minutes to get closer, but never could have imagined what we’d find. The lionesses were trying to engage the youngsters of the pride in a hunting lesson, with the younger lot sent to drive some waterbuck back toward the adult females. They were unsuccessful. Instead, the young were districted by a serval who found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time. The serval was suddenly circled by eight lions. The clever thing crouched down, as we’re all reminded time and time again – whatever you do, don’t run! Though these lions were certainly more inquisitive than malicious, the serval was not having it and took no chances – hissing and swiping at anyone who got too close. One by one, most of the lions got bored with the lack of excitement and receded to a shaded spot nearby leaving only one still enthralled with its very own serval sighting. The serval took its chance and bolted off with a young waterbuck proving just the right distraction for a final escape. Lucky for the serval. Not for the young waterbuck”. – Kyla Lombard, Wilderness Botswana Service & Standards Manager




A cheetah with cubs in Tanzania

“I was in the Southern Serengeti in late November, and it was a baking hot day on the Ndutu Plains. My guide and I were the only people around, with open plains stretching as far as the eye could see. We were watching a female cheetah stalk a single Thomson’s gazelle. The conditions were perfect for her, she was downwind, and the full hunt happened in front of our eyes. The cheetah approached at full speed, her head motionless as her body moved at 100kmh, veering this way and that way... and then the kill. All too easy it seemed. She looked around, scanning the horizon for predators. Then she called, and called again. And three cheetah cubs miraculously appeared from close by. We hadn't even seen them, the cubs clearly ordered to stay low and out of sight. For the next two hours we watched the cheetah cubs learn everything from their mum”. – Julian Carter-Manning, Sales Director




Wild dogs vs. buffalo in the Okavango Delta

“Watching a wild dog pack hunt at Wilderness Mombo turned into a three-hour extravaganza. A pack of 18 animals had unexpectedly split and divided a herd of buffalo with malicious intent. Time and time again they would storm the herd, sending them galloping in all directions. At one point a single calf walked out to see what the commotion was about, but the herd quickly brought the calf back, much to the disappointment of the hungry canids. But moments after herding the calf back in, an adult lost focus and became detached from the herd. The dogs were quick to begin their ferocious attack. Taking turns, they would charge and nip at the much larger prey until they broke her nerve and the chase was on. Into the tree-line they ran; 18 dogs running rings around the frightened buffalo. The buffalo led us into thicker vegetation, flushing steenbok and an unfortunate impala foal which was snapped up by two lionesses who appeared from nowhere. The commotion then attracted another pack; spotted hyena trying to capitalise on the tiring herbivore. The new predators’ arrival broke the rhythm of the hunt, giving the buffalo time to breathe. She held her ground. And after 10 minutes of pondering the situation, the dogs were off to find easier targets, with the hyena closely in tow”. – Deon de Villiers, former Wilderness Botswana Concession Manager




The chase is on in Botswana

“While on safari at Wilderness Jao in the Okavango Delta, we spotted three young male lions, still nomadic and without their own territory. We were told that two days earlier they had taken down and were feeding on a buffalo, and we spent some time watching them digesting and lazing around the kill-site. We kept coming back to them to see when they’d next be on the move. Three days post their kill they were on the move again and came across a hippo that had left a small waterhole in search of more water. Still fuelled from their recent feed, they decided to chase the hippo, who ran away at quite an impressive, and hilarious speed. It was more a display than anything else of boys simply being boys”. – Josie Eveleigh, Wilderness Communications Copywriter

Boys will be boys

An astounding cheetah kill in Namibia

“On a visit to Wilderness Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp I had an amazing sighting of a cheetah kill. We were watching a female cheetah with her cub and could see that they had taken an interest in a nearby springbok herd. Just as the sun dipped below the horizon, she decided it was time and streaked out into the open towards the springbok. She singled out one large springbok ram and quickly closed ground, chasing him in a wide loop. She brought down the springbok about 100m from our vehicle and then her cub joined her. We decided to leave them to their dinner and headed back for ours, with huge smiles on our faces”. – Kai Collins, former Wilderness Group Conservation Manager

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Not one, but two kills in Botswana

“It was my final morning at Wilderness Little Mombo and I was keen to end my safari on a high. We soon caught the tracks of some wild dogs and after a short time tracking, located a pack of eight dogs. The pack split and we followed the larger group, hot on the heels of an adult male impala. The dogs managed to get hold of the impala which fought honourably before finally being felled and devoured by the wild dogs and a small pack of hyenas that had also been following the dogs. The hyenas managed to push the wild dogs off the impala and made short work of their morning feed. We ventured off and a few minutes later, we were watching a gorgeous female leopard basking in the mid-morning sun. Suddenly, she tensed and leapt off into the brush behind us. Then she came back in to view, only she was no longer basking in the mid-morning sun. She held a civet by the neck. As the civet took its final breath, I'm not ashamed to say that a few tears were shed on the vehicle. The female leopard took one tentative sniff of the lifeless civet before walking off back towards the spot where we'd originally found her. Dumbstruck and emotional, we headed back to Wilderness Little Mombo, trying to make sense of the incredible sightings we'd had that morning”. – Matt Gammon, Wilderness Senior Safari Specialist




A lone lioness and a pack of wild dogs in the Linyanti

“At Wilderness DumaTau in Botswana’s Linyanti Wildlife Reserve we were watching some grazing red lechwe, when suddenly they burst into action and pronked through the shallow waters in a noisy splash. We heard a loud snort from the lechwe and saw the heads of no fewer than 12 wild dogs as they bounded through the long grass towards the lechwe. The dogs had no chance of getting to the lechwe; they were too deep, too far and the water too dangerous to risk. Then someone sitting in front of me said, in one of the calmest voices, “Oh look, a lioness”. There in the treeline was a large female. The dogs hadn’t picked up on the lioness, and still in thick cover, she snuck up, inching closer and closer. She then made her big break in pursuit of the wild dogs. The lechwe bounded further into the channel whilst the dogs made a break for it. One dog tried to follow the others but soon realised that the lioness was cutting her off. I was whispering under my voice, “Run dog, run!” After a few seconds, the lioness launched out a right paw which sent the dog tumbling and she was on top of it in a flash.





The dog was fighting back and prevented a fatal bite by showing its teeth and snapping at her. Just as the cat managed to get her head down to administer the killing bite, another dog came sprinting up, making as much noise as it could, right into the lionesses’ face. This distracted her for a split second and she released her grip on the original dog. The new dog then took off in one direction with the lion in slow pursuit – her energy spent on the original chase. The tackled dog needed no second invitation, and leapt to its feet, sprinting away in the opposite direction! Finally, the whole pack trotted off, with no significant damage seemingly done. Such is the law of nature that even when hunting, the hunter can become the hunted!” – Graham Simmonds, Wilderness Zambezi Camp Operations & Trade Manager

A first hunt for a seasoned safarigoer

“At Wilderness Vumbura in the Okavango Delta, we were watching two lionesses and their four sub-adult cubs just relaxing and lazing around. They were right underneath a big tree, using a termite mound as a surveyor's point. The lioness spotted a herd of blue wildebeest grazing a couple of hundred metres away and decided to approach them slowly. But the wildebeest quickly became aware of the stalking lioness and scattered off in different directions – an unsuccessful hunt. Only, the lioness did not give up and kept approaching, crouching further. Then suddenly, she sprang into action like Usain Bolt out of the starting blocks, rushing towards the wildebeest. There was a cloud of dust. “She got, she got it!” The words came out of my mouth as my heart started to pump faster and faster. Once the vehicle came to a stop, the cameras began shuttering away. The wildebeest had scattered, but one unlucky animal had been resting behind a bush. With over a hundred safaris under my belt, I’d finally managed to experience a successful hunt”. – Carel Loubser, Wilderness Head of Trade & Partnership Marketing

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A capable cheetah mom in the Okavango Delta

“We were at Wilderness Qorokwe when we came across a mom and sub-adult cheetah, ideal photographic subjects in the early morning light. She was surveying her home range and he was sharpening his claws on a log, without a care in the world. Then all of a sudden, her posture changed completely. Off the log she jumped and immediately went into stalk mode, moving quickly through the open acacia-mopane thicket. By the time we’d circled around to her, she was with her prize – a young impala. We watched them for about an hour, as the sub-adult cheetah cub tried his darnedest to rip open the skin of the impala. After licking at it for ages, eventually mom had to step in and help him”. – Alison May, Wilderness Sales Manager 

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A lion wading through water with a lechwe

“This female lion had killed a lechwe in the open but she could not feed on it in peace as the vultures kept landing on her and surrounding her. The vultures also tend to alert other predators to a kill so she decided to drag the kill to the nearest bush. But before she could get to the bush, she had to drag her kill through the water, which was interesting to watch”. – Isaac Kalio, Wilderness Zambia Guide




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