Category "Safari", January 30, 2016 - Stefan Hollmann - Dieser Artikel in deutscher Sprache
Update January 31, 2016

Nature shows its true colors: Our first lion kill

Mostly game drives are very peaceful. You see young elephants playing on the road next to your car, an elegant giraffe slowly eating some leafs of a thorny bush, and maybe a funny family of warthogs walking along with you. But sometimes you observe more thrilling action, a lion kill - the brutal part of nature, but a big part of it. And when you see it like we did, you maybe also would get an unpleasant feeling…

Warthogs in Kapama Private Game Reserve

Some years ago we stayed a few days in the Kapama Private Game Reserve. Part of our stay was my birthday present for Claudia: An elephant ride in the Jabulani Elephant Camp which is inside Kapama. But that's another story; the experience I want to share with you now is our first "lion kill", how the ranger say. That means you see how a lion kills...

Until our stay in Kapama we hadn't seen a lion kill before, but then it happened one morning in this game reserve at the border of Kruger National Park, only a few kilometres away from Hoedspruit. No spectacular animals were seen on our first morning game drive - some marabous still sleeping in the trees, a jakal passing by - but suddenly a pride of lions crossed the road.

Lions in Kapama Private Game Reserve

Our ranger explained that the pride consisted of three mothers and three youngsters who were playing around on the road. For me they all were just really big lions... Some were looking at us respectively at the guy sitting in the outlook seat in front of the car, our tracker, and you can imagine that I got a slightly scary feeling (but how must he have felt?). You could easily fall prey to the lions if you didn't sit in the car. This thought sends you shivers down your spine...

The lions left the road into the grass and bushes, and our ranger went off-road to follow them. Only in the private game reserves they go off-road with their four-by-fours, to get you close to the animals and to the action. Suddenly the lions stopped and watched in one single direction. "There's a burrow full with warthogs", our ranger said, but I couldn't recognize anything...

Hunting Lions, Kapama Private Game Reserve

And then everything happened in a second. A warthog looked out of the burrow, realized the lions, panicked, left the safety of its hole in the ground, and tried to escape. A whole family of warthogs left the burrow and tried to flee the lions which immediately started to hunt them... The action ended as fast as it had begun.

Hunting Lions, Kapama Private Game Reserve

They hunted down all the warthogs in only a few seconds. One lioness laid down under a bush to have the warthog she killed as breakfast. That was not nice to see, but the most terrible feeling we got when we heard that one warthog was still alive while already being eaten...!

Lioness eating a warthog, Kapama Private Game Reserve

The sounds were horrible. The warthog screamed and squeaked all the time while the three youngsters were trying to kill it, growling and roaring on and on. Fortunately (!) we couldn't see the scene clearly in the high grass. The ranger told us that they're still learning to kill their prey, and he was laughing about the young lions: "They don't manage to kill it!"

Nobody else in the car was in laughing mood. Everybody (there were four other tourists with us) was very quiet - and somehow shocked. The screams of the warthog wouldn‘t end, and so we left the place after never-ending ten minutes or so...

Somewhere a bird started to sing.

"That was only a morning snack for them" the ranger explained. "They need more. The warthogs should have stayed in their burrow - it's safe." Back at the lodge having our breakfast, I was surprised that the bacon still tasted good...

Lioness

We experienced nature in a way you don't want to see often. But nature is not only about beautiful landscapes and colorful flowers, it's also about struggle for survival. From the moment of that experience the phrase "It's nature!" has got its special place in our vocabulary…