Wow, what an exciting spectacle. My heart still pumping adrenaline through my veins.
5 young male lions taking on a herd off buffalo. This takes experience, teamwork, and a lot of courage. Seemed that they had it all.
Cruising along the Zambezi plains, I saw a herd of buffalo being watched by 3 safari vehicles.
Driving a bit closer, I noticed 5 lions watching the buffalo just as closely. The buffalo moved to the lower riverbanks off the ‘Nkalengi Channel’, giving the 5 young male lions plenty of cover to stay unnoticed.
The buffalo seemed distracted by the safari vehicles, which the lions used as cover as well.
The lions stalked through a flood washed canyon, closer and closer to their selected victims.
The buffalo were still unaware.
The dominant male lion surprised the buffalo with an epic sprint towards the herd,
which created confusion and panic among the buffalo.
The buffalo were straight in defensive mode and charged towards the oncoming lions. He and another lion were chased into the high grass near the water. From the distance, it looked like the lions got speared and trampled to death. But actually, looking back through the photos, it was part of the lions master plan.
The buffalo regrouped in a circle, with the young ones inside. Like a brick wall, no one gets in. The larger bulls stabilizing the outer edge of the circle.
Meanwhile, the other 3 lions caused havoc among the herd,
which appeared to be a distracting tactic, risking their own lives.
The huge bulls, one by one, left the circle of trust to defend in attack mode.
These lions were heavily chased by those immense bulls. The chaser gets chased. Only speed and agility saved the lions from certain death.
One off the lions was using Zimba as a shield, leaving me in a heart-pumping drive.
Some of the buffalo wouldn’t let go and were edging towards Zimba. We were right in the line of fire.
The other two lions actually, which had been forgotten about by the buffalo, stayed undercover in the high grass and waited for the right moment to pounce. It came with a very young buffalo being attacked and taken down.
While one lion was still distracting the buffalo, unwillingly at this stage,
the other 4 lions already started their meal.
A strict hierarchy is in place, even with these 5 bachelors.
They seemed to know each other well, they most likely originated from the same pride.
The fifth lion eventually got to take lunch.
They were hungry and a blood-covered head stuck out now and then, to keep an eye out on the surroundings.
Being strong and stubborn as water buffalo are, the herd returned slowly, assessing the situation.
Over and over, they edged closer behind our cars, to see what is going on.
I am certain, that if the 4 vehicles hadn’t blocked the straight path to the feasting lions, the buffalo would have considered a stampede for revenge.
That thought made me quite nervous, as we were 10 meters away from the lions.
Even a fairly young buffalo dared to break the frontline. He couldn’t believe what just happened it seems.
A big bull in particular just wouldn’t let go.
Again and again, he came closer in disbelief and uncertainty.
Most likely the father of the dead calf, he decided to take action.
This time, he used the cars and bush as cover, just like lions did before, and made amends for it. Charging all by himself towards the feasting 5 lions takes some guts and courage. Man did he have courage. He could have easily rammed the lions head on but didn’t want to trample over the dead calf. Quite touching actually.
Surprisingly enough, only one of the lions ran for cover, as he was left with no choice. Otherwise, the charging bull would have trampled him to death. The others growled and laid low and just wouldn’t let go of the carcass. Impressive courage from both sides. He charged a couple off times in frustration, possibly just a last farewell.
Eventually, the grieving bull retreated with one last look.
With lowered head, he joined the rest of the herd.
Eventually, the herd moved on to take a plunge to cross the Nkalengi channel to the other side.
I would have thought the cold waters washed the experience away,
a new start on the other side.
A lone buffalo bull occupied that space by himself before, untouched by the previous drama. The fifth lion returned to join his brothers.
Being 5 lions, they circled around the carcass, which made it hard to get a close-up facial photo. The sun was directly opposite and some high grass in front made it difficult for good photos too.
Not with the buffalo though, as they were behind me and the sun shone straight on to them.
The black and white photos turned out particularly good. As more and more safari vehicles arrived, I gave way out of courtesy.
One last photo, one lasting impression.
I returned to the scene of the crime a little while later. Maybe some jackals, hyena or vultures had arrived. But no one dares to mess with 5 feasting lions, apart from a buffalo. It was about lunchtime and the sun beat down merciless. The lions were scattered in the dense bush and open grass area towards the channel.
One was right next to the track, blending in so well, that I only looked him in the eyes the very last minute before he ran off with his part of the lion share. The high grass made it impossible for a spectacular photo.
Wow, what an epic drama off life and death here in the ‘Lower Zambezi National Park’. A natural spectacle and I can’t believe that I watched it live, right in the line of fire. Unforgettable!