On an afternoon game drive during our stay at Busanga Bush Camp in August, we got the call that a lioness, called Maggie had just made a lechwe kill on the plains behind Shumba Camp. We quickly turned the vehicle around and made our way to the reported sighting. The next couple of hours offered a fascinating view into the life of these lions and their behaviour…
As we arrived, the lioness that had just made the kill stood up and began making her way in the direction of Shumba. We decided to follow her, in the hope that she would fetch the rest of her pride to join the feast.
As she moved past Shumba Camp she crossed an area that had been burnt in a contained natural fire a few days earlier. Her slow, but determined, walk kicked up particles of ash and dust. Normally, the lioness would have vocalised to alert the pride of her whereabouts, but due to the strong wind in her face, she was unable to do so. This meant she had to make her way to where we spotted the pride earlier.
After a 30 minute drive covering over two kilometres, she crossed the road and moved closer to the waterside. It was not long before a couple of seemingly ‘happy’ faces appeared from the long grass, most likely knowing that they had been summoned for food.
The three cubs quickly followed the lioness as she turned around to lead the pride back to the kill. Not long after, they were followed by the two young males of the pride. After our knowledgeable guide Sam explained the pride’s hierarchy – where the males eat first – we were soon all rooting for the cubs to reach the kill before their older brothers.
We decided to go ahead to ensure that we positioned our vehicle in the best way possible to see how the action would unfold.
We patiently waited and finally spotted the pride on the horizon making their way towards the kill. At this point, we were all very happy to see that the two brothers were still lagging behind. As they came closer we soon realised that they had steadily caught up with the youngsters as they stopped for a quick drink, allowing the two brothers to catch up.
Finally the lioness made it back to her kill and with one last call she encouraged the cubs to move faster.
A few minutes later the two males caught up and chased their mother and one of the cubs away from the kill – so much for respecting your parents!
All that the rest of the pride could do was wait their turn…
The cubs did not give up, but were met with a snarl and a growl each time they tried to approach.
Once the carcass had been torn into two pieces, and with the setting sun, we left the two males to finish off their “hard-earned dinner”.
Also viewing this amazing sighting was Shumba guide Isaac Kalio who lends his unique perspective, having come across Maggie earlier in the day as she targeted a nearby lechwe herd for their meal.
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