Its Monday and full bellies in the Luangwa

Well hello there! I hope you are fabulously well and sitting tight, ready for this weeks’ update. Markus Wagner from the Abendsonne Afrika group has sent us another fabulous update of their time here, so once more Markus over to you:

“Over our time in the South Luangwa our sightings were plentiful but one afternoon we met a group of 8 lions. They were completely relaxed, only the young lioness (approx. 9 months) was obviously bored. Again, and again she marched up to the rest of the pride and tried to get them to play but this was unsuccessful, and they just ignored her.

We noticed that the lions’ bellies looked empty and thought that they would soon need something to eat, but it was still too hot, so it looked like a lazy afternoon was in store for them. Our guide suggested that given the heat, we have our usual afternoon sundowner. We drove off, but not too far away from them, so that if they did decide to get up and move, we would know. So, several hundred meters away from the lions we settled into a gin and tonic with a lovely herd of elephants.

When we returned to the lions a little later, they were certainly a little livelier and we didn’t have to wait that long for them to get up and start moving about. They leisurely strolled through the grass perfectly lined in a single row, occasionally one of them lying down for a short while, but never for a long time. And the little lioness stayed at the end, she was not allowed to hunt yet. Then at quite a distance behind them, we followed.

It wasn’t long before it started getting dark and in the lights of the car, we saw eyes of some sort – not belonging to the lions! Not wanting to influence anything we stopped the car and turned off all the lights. For quite some time we were completely blind to what was happening on the ground and couldn’t see anything except the vast and impressive Milky Way above us. Sight restricted, we embarked on an audio safari listening out to the noises of the bush which were even more distinct. And somewhere out there the lions were hunting …

After a few minutes we heard hoofs and loud trampling as well as an awful sound. Perry switched on the lights… 10 m in front of the car was a large cloud of dust. Gradually, the contours of lions emerged. And of a waterbuck. While most lions were already starting to eat at the back, a lioness hangs by it´s throat until the waterbuck finally went limp.

This scene I was always keen to see. And at the same time has always terrified me. I have been in Africa so many times but never seen a kill. In retrospect, my camera saved me. I was so busy with the technical details of how to capture the whole thing, that I didn’t really take time to think about what was going on. It seemed to me more like a TV crime thriller. Plus, we couldn´t see the really bloody scenes from our position.

After a good half an hour, there wasn’t much left of the waterbuck. We could only see the ribs. It felt like the busiest eater was the little lioness, with a blood-red snout.

Hyenas were also approaching. One hyena called for support, but 8 lions were just too many. A younger male lion was standing up as one of the hyenas came too close and with a loud growl chased it away. Enough of a warning for the hyenas to stand in the background and wait until the lions were gone.

The following morning, we returned to the scene of the crime to investigate and by then only the intestinal contents of the waterbuck could be seen at this spot. Nothing else left. We got off the car and reconstructed what had happened. Based on the tracks in the sand, we could see that both, hyenas and the crocodile, were there. The spoor of the huge crocodile was amazing. And after the crocodile there was also a civet. So many tracks for a feast of the lions…

When we later drove over the Katete Bridge, we saw the full stomachs of the lions lying in the shade in the dry riverbed. They all looked like they had swallowed a football. Only the little lioness kept getting up. This time not because she was bored, but because she didn’t know how to lie down with this big belly.”

Absolutely brilliant, thanks so much Markus! What a wonderful sighting that you were able to share with us. It also leaves me with nothing else to say, except I hope that you have the most wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

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