Lions at Our Fence Again
Over the years we have been blessed with many incredible sightings, but last night was definitely one for the books.
It seems that as the days go by and the bush continues to lack rain that the game spends even more time on our side of the river, for better grazing and to our benefit, so do the lions.
Toni and I were about to sit down to dinner, when Gramps called me at around 7pm. “Lions have made a kill, come to the deck quickly”, he said.
Already in my jarmies, I threw on my gown and slippers, grabbed a torch and hurried to the deck to catch a glimpse of my favourite visitors.
They had killed what I presume to be an impala, as whatever they were eating didn’t seem to be very large. I counted five lions lying just above the river on our side, each one with it’s own piece of meat.
We must’ve been watching them for about 30 minutes, when we heard movement below our deck. We shone the torch and saw a small herd of seriously nervous impala just below our deck. We quickly turned the torch off. We didn't want them to be even more vulnerable then they already were and waited.
Then we saw the orange eyes, and yellow blurs moving quickly through the reeds and in to the opening in front of our deck. The impalas began to run the other way, while the lions walked slowly through the opening in front of our deck, and then began to run along our fence line.
We had barely got up and looked over to the side, to see where they were going, when we heard a loud commotion, an animal crying and lions growling. They had made another kill.
Gramps and Toni took the torch and began to walk down the property to where the commotion was coming from.
Grammy and I hopped on the golf cart for a little night drive. We drove down to our units 6 and 7, where some of our guests had now congregated as well. We stood on the patio of unit 6, and shone the torch, and there they were, two massive lionesses having their second meal of the night.
**Apologies for the quality of these photos, but it was really dark, and I tried my best to capture a few pics and videos of this incredible sighting to show you. Obviously our fence with the Kruger National Park was a bit of a "great photo" killer**
I couldn’t actually believe it.
And then, we heard lions calling further down river, toward Crocodile Bridge Camp. More lions? I knew there were another three in the reeds somewhere, and most likely they could see us, although we could not see them.
This was possibly one of the most thrilling moments of my life, watching lions have their dinner merely 20 meters from us, while we were on foot.
I could see them staring intensely at us, with those piercing rust-coloured eyes, they were growling at each other over the impala, the earth vibrating under my feet.
I wanted a better look, but I also wanted to feel a little more secure, so Gramps and I fetched the car, and then we drove right along the fence.
Grammy went to bed, and Toni went to do a check in, but Gramps and I sat for over an hour with the magnificent, gorgeous royalty. I could’ve just spent the night in the car actually on stakeout.
I felt as if I was in a dream.
It was a crisp evening, and the sky was lit up by the milky way of stars, A cool breeze blew through the car, as the giant trees above us rustled in the breeze. This was Africa; Africa at it’s finest.
It was such a special moment, that Gramps and I got to share together, one which I’ll cherish forever.
As we sat in the car, watching them in awe, we chatted about the gorgeous pride that visit us almost daily, their behaviour and Gramps told me about other lion stories he had experienced at Ellie Walk. Like walking through a pride of lions on his lawn, without even realizing it until he was safely in the house.
The larger female, affectionately known as “Grumpy” was the only one feeding at this point, while the other lioness lay right next to her, not daring to even take a piece. Another female came to inspect the kill, and Grumpy gave a large growl as if to say, “Don’t you dare come any closer, this is my impala”.
At this point, she had opened up the stomach, and the gasses from the stomach contents had created quite the stench. My stomach churned a bit, but I refused to close the window, because the sounds were so incredible. Her teeth were absolutely enormous, as we watched her crushing those bones, and purring happily, like a cat.
A gorgeous sub-adult male joined the two lying there, but he kept his distance. I think he knew not to try his luck with miss grumpy.
Eventually, Toni called me to ask if I would be coming home for dinner anytime soon... In all the excitement, I had lost my appetite ;)
The lioness finished up her meal, and then they moved off in to the reeds below. As we drove back along the fence, I scanned the reeds and shining with my torch, we could see a few pairs of lion eyes staring at us.
Then we heard lions growling toward the deck area. Literally there were lions everywhere. How incredible.
Gramps dropped me at my house, and went back to the deck to check, but he couldn’t see them. Perhaps they had caught another impala around the bend of the river?
As I lay in bed, reminiscing about this amazing sighting, all I could hear were soft lion contact calls. I love that noise, it is so soothing, and I drifted in to most wonderful sleep. Of course, I dreamt of the Royalty.
This morning we went to check if there were any remnants of impala proving they had in fact been there, and that it wasn’t all a dream… but there was not much, except for some of the stomach contents.
Today the monkeys have been alarm calling like crazy, we haven't seen the royalty again (as of yet), but we were lucky enough to see a hyena coming past in search of leftovers.
Some people go out on Friday nights and socialise. But us? We prefer to go on lion stakeouts ;)