It’s Monday 12th January 2009 and the battle of the prides

The Summers group have been visiting Nkwali for the past few days and are having a wonderful time. They came on safari to celebrate Linzi’s birthday and what an experience they have had! I caught up with David & Judith Austwick for a few stories and to steal David’s photos (aren’t they corkers?).

Two mornings ago they went looking for lions with Jacob. Being such a fabulous guide, Jacob knows the general territories of different lion prides and so went in search of the Chichele pride (not surprisingly around the Chichele hills). They followed tracks and trails to find the pride feasting on a zebra carcass. The Chichele pride has two young males in charge with scruffs of mane (so you have to look closely to see the difference between the girls and the guys).

The Chichele lion - not a lioness in South Luangwa Entrance of the Mfuwe Pride

While watching the Chichele pride gnaw away, a couple of lionesses snuck out of the bushes followed by a magnificent fully grown, full-maned male lion (about 3 metres from Jacob’s game viewer). The atmosphere became highly charged as the new male lion saw the other pride. He let out a snarly growl that everyone felt to their bones – he was not happy.

Magnificent Mfuwe lion snarlingLion chase

The new magnificent male did not waste any time as he shot past Jacob’s vehicle to chase the other two youngsters off their kill.

The newcomers were from the Mfuwe pride. It would appear that Jacob & crew were right on the border between their territories and the Chichele pride had trespassed into Mfuwe territory. The gorgeous pride male had chased off the young upstarts and settled into finishing off the zebra. After he had sated his appetite the other lionesses moved in.

The cautious approach of cubsMfuwe pride munching away

They were soon joined by a lioness and three cubs – who must have been kept hidden and guarded while the spat was going on. The cubs approached very cautiously but the male cub must have been very hungry, as soon as he saw that food was on offer he rushed into the melee and avoided being swatted away by diving into the middle of the ribcage. So although the lionesses were growling at him he was safely tucking into a tender meal. The other cubs were not quite as brave and were dealt a couple of swats before getting stuck in.

Giraffe with very strange kink in neckCollapsed giraffe

Yesterday morning they came across a very sad sight – a very sorry looking giraffe. He looked very weak and had a very strange kink half way up his neck. Walking was obviously painful and the giraffe was panting & drooling with the effort. While watching he stumbled and his front legs buckled. It’s highly likely that he will not be able to get up again. Upon investigation Jacob et al came up with a theory that a dislocated shoulder or vertebra caused the difficulties with the front legs and has likely prevented it from drinking. Very distressing, but brings home (with a big thud) that in all her beauty nature can be tough.

In the evening the Summers group was treated to another Discovery channel moment when they were graced with the presence of a young female leopard. They spent about an hour observing her alert movements between the ground, trees and anthill! What a treat.

Young female leopard in Emerald SeasonLeopard in a tree

The group has a couple more days in their stay – I wonder what else they’ll see (who says the Emerald Season doesn’t have as good game viewing as the rest of the year?)



Baboon watching the sunset

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