Clash off Giants, Lions vs Buffalo, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Lion on the lookout, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Lion on the lookout, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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.

Unsuspected victim, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The unsuspected victim, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Cruising along the Zambezi plains, I saw a herd of buffalo being watched by 3 safari vehicles.

On the prowl, one is behind the pack, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

On the prowl, one is behind the pack, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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.

Using all cover given, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Using any cover available, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The buffalo seemed distracted by the safari vehicles, which the lions used as cover as well.

The aim is clear, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The aim is clear, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The lions stalked through a flood washed canyon, closer and closer to their selected victims.

Unaware herd of buffalo, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

An unaware herd of buffalo, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The buffalo were still unaware.

The chase is on, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The chase is on, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The dominant male lion surprised the buffalo with an epic sprint towards the herd,

Dust and confusion, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Dust and confusion, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

which created confusion and panic among the buffalo.

Damn, damn, damn I missed the lions head!, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Damn, damn, damn I missed the lions head!, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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. 

Regroup, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Regroup, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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.

Creating havoc amongst the buffalo, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Creating havoc amongst the buffalo, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Meanwhile, the other 3 lions caused havoc among the herd,

Assessing the situation, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Assessing the situation, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

which appeared to be a distracting tactic, risking their own lives.

Buffalo bulls on the charge, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Buffalo Bulls on the charge, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The huge bulls, one by one, left the circle of trust to defend in attack mode.

Lions speed and agility, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Lions speed and agility, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

These lions were heavily chased by those immense bulls. The chaser gets chased. Only speed and agility saved the lions from certain death.

Retrieving behind Zimba, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Lion hiding behind Zimba, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

One off the lions was using Zimba as a shield, leaving me in a heart-pumping drive.

We’re not done yet, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

We’re not done yet, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Some of the buffalo wouldn’t let go and were edging towards Zimba. We were right in the line of fire.

Lions in ambush moments before the kill, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Lions in ambush moments before the kill, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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.

Can’t get to the join brothers yet, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Can’t get to the join brothers yet, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

While one lion was still distracting the buffalo, unwillingly at this stage,

The lion share, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The lion share, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

the other 4 lions already started their meal.

The leader it’s first, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The leader it’s first, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

A strict hierarchy is in place, even with these 5 bachelors.

Making a statement, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Making a statement, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

They seemed to know each other well, they most likely originated from the same pride.

Blood covered head, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Blood covered the head of the lion, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The fifth lion eventually got to take lunch.

Paw licking good, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Paw licking good, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

They were hungry and a blood-covered head stuck out now and then, to keep an eye out on the surroundings.

Bull in disbelief, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Bull in disbelief, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Being strong and stubborn as water buffalo are, the herd returned slowly, assessing the situation.

Not happy , Jen! Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Not happy, Jan! Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Over and over, they edged closer behind our cars, to see what is going on.

Sad looking buffalo, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Sad looking buffalo, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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.

Edging closer and closer, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Edging closer and closer, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

That thought made me quite nervous, as we were 10 meters away from the lions.

Coragious young buffalo, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Courageous young buffalo, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Even a fairly young buffalo dared to break the frontline. He couldn’t believe what just happened it seems.

He’s up to something, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

He’s up to something, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

A big bull in particular just wouldn’t let go.

Getting closer to the lions, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Getting closer to the lions, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Again and again, he came closer in disbelief and uncertainty.

Sneaking up behind cars, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Sneaking up behind cars, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Most likely the father of the dead calf, he decided to take action.

Sneaking behind bushes, Lion stealth tactics, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Sneaking behind bushes, Lion stealth tactics, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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.

Chased and battlled lion returns, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Chased and battled lion returns, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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.

One last look, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

One last look, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Eventually, the grieving bull retreated with one last look.

A human like gesture, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

A human-like gesture, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

With lowered head, he joined the rest of the herd.

A dash in to the waters, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

A dash into the waters, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Eventually, the herd moved on to take a plunge to cross the Nkalengi channel to the other side.

Water buffalo! Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Water buffalo! Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

I would have thought the cold waters washed the experience away,

All washed and running, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

All washed and running, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

a new start on the other side.

The lone bull watching on from the other side, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The lone bull watching on from the other side, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

A lone buffalo bull occupied that space by himself before, untouched by the previous drama. The fifth lion returned to join his brothers.

Hard to capture due to sun and high grass, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Hard to capture due to the sun and high grass, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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.

In full sunlight and shadows, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

In full sunlight and shadows, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Not with the buffalo though, as they were behind me and the sun shone straight on to them.

Bull in black and white, great shadow display, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Bull in black and white, great shadow display, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The black and white photos turned out particularly good. As more and more safari vehicles arrived, I gave way out of courtesy.

Different position, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Different position, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

One last photo, one lasting impression. 

Rest after the fest, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Rest after the fest, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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.

Blending in, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Blending in, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

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!

2 thoughts on “Clash off Giants, Lions vs Buffalo, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

  1. Hello Ben,
    That’s a great expérience you had juste A little moment after we saw the lions and the herd of buffalos and we met you on our way back put and your way in. So finally having followed us to the lower Zambezi was worthwile😁 To bad we could not stay longer with you. We had a great Time with the girls and are now in Windhoek. Our car is in the storage. A little sad thinking that it might be our last trip to Africa. Great Storyteller and photograph you are. 👌 Good luck and maybe somewhere else. 😘 from the Swiss famille (Vanessa, Cora, Natacha, Jean-François et Cornélia)

    Like

    1. Heya Christinet, sorry for late reply, I been very busy and only saw your comment now.
      It sure was fun meeting you all in Lusaka and Lower Zambezi. I saw the lions hunting the next day, only buffalo the day you left Lower Zambezi. Thanks again, and stay in touch. Did I give you my email or Facebook? Last is my name shown on the photos.
      Hope all is well in Switzerland. 😉

      Like

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