• Danielle Sheedy

When Lions Leave a Hole in Your Fence

Updated: Jun 17, 2019


A couple of days ago I had Skat (**See definition at end of blog) come and stay with me. We made a plan to wake up before the sunrise, and go in to the Kruger National Park for the day. I had big plans of all the camps we’d visit, and roads we’d take.


We got ready, brewed some hot coffee in our travel mugs, and packed the car with the essentials: rusks (**See definition at end of blog), binoculars, cameras, a Kruger National Park Map and water.


I’m not a morning person, so for me to be up before the sun is quite the sight to behold, but I just love the bush in the winter, and I really wanted to have some good sightings.

I was excited, as we pulled out of Elephant Walk, just as the sun was rising, and drove through Crocodile Bridge Gate.

The next minute the gate guard waved us down and told us, that the lions had made a kill right here next to the road. There were quite a few cars, so at first I couldn’t see what she was talking about, we thanked her and edged forward down the hill.


When I finally got a better look, lo and behold, there was our young adolescent male lion (from the Vurhami Pride) lying next to his meal (A kudu with a rather sizey pair of horns).


A little way up the hill was the other male adolescent looking down on us plebs in our vehicles, with a look of utter disgust on his face. Clearly not pleased at all that we were bothering his brother while he was trying to eat his breakfast.


He was literally about a meter from our fence, and in the background I could see our unit 1 chalet, and I kept thinking to myself… I walk next to this fence; I walk the Bella Lump (**See definition at end of blog) here all the time. I come and sit in front of Unit 1 and watch the elephants for hours all alone, I wonder how many times big, fat lions are lurking in the bushes below watching me with curiosity- What an exciting thought.

I called Toni (My boyfriend) to tell him to come and have a look (He was working that day), and told him to bring Esmaralada with, our receptionist. I insisted that he come in a closed vehicle, and not by foot or in the golf cart, which is his usual mode of transport around the property. I explained that he would be able to drive on the inside of our property along the fence line, and that he’d have the perfect view, minus all the traffic. I also told him to let the staff know and the guests, so they wouldn’t take a walk next to the fence while all of this was going on.


At this point, we could only see two of the lions, and I wondered where the rest were. The male that was feeding next to the road was becoming agitated by all the cars, and was feeling exceptionally threatened. He was growling, and mock charging the car that was parked right next to him. I know I was in a vehicle, but even so, I was still shaking in my vellies (**See definition at end of blog).

He looked like he had been in a few scraps in his short life; he had a black eye and scars on his nose. Lions are exceptionally territorial, and often battle over territory or individual dominance. I felt sorry for him, and I realized he wouldn’t be hanging around there for much longer. Lions are very vulnerable when they are trying to eat.


Skat and I decided to leave the sighting and head in to the park for our trip. We had just got our permit and were about to take the road to Lower Sabie, when I called Toni for an update about the lions. He said they had left the kill but were now just lying in front of the reeds below our unit 1. I had a severe case of fomo (**see definition at end of blog), and we decided to rather turn back, as we didn’t want to miss a thing.


As we came over the bridge, we had a stunning sighting of a lioness laying on the top of a small green patch between the reeds, and just behind her were Toni and Esmaralda in the bakkie (**See definition at end of blog) watching her.

We drove in our gate, and along the fence to where he was parked.

Toni and Esmaralda then told us their version of events, that went as follows:


They had come to check out the sighting, and while they were sitting there watching the lions, Jeffrey (One of our staff members who didn’t get the memo about the lions) came walking down to them, to see what all the fuss and commotion was about. At this point, one of the lions turned around and charged Jeffrey through the fence, pressing her entire face up against it growling at him. He got the fright of his life, and started walking backwards slowly; Toni and Esmaralda quickly drove to him and told him to jump on the bakkie. All the while, Jeff kept saying to them “Don’t go too close, don’t go too close”. Today is actually Jeff’s birthday, and boy I am sure he is feeling rather lucky to be here to celebrate it.

The lions had all left the kill and moved in to the reeds, and the cars began to leave the sighting. Skat and I were driving back out of the property to finally take our trip in to the park, when he said to me “wait, stop, what’s happened to the fence?”.


We stopped and had a look at it, and to my surprise, there were massive holes in our fence next to the guard hut at Crocodile Bridge Gate. The lions had chased the kudu in to the fence to trap it, a common tactic that lions tend to use when hunting.


This is the first time, something like this has happened since I have lived here, but my gramps told me that something similar has actually happened on two separate occasions.

The first time, three lionesses chased a kudu through the fence, in exactly the same spot, and we had guests having a braai (**See definition at end of blog) at unit 1 at the time. The kudu came running straight past the guests while they were all standing around the fire, and seconds later was followed by three very hungry lionesses. Gramps tells me that the guests got such a fright, and quickly ran in to the chalet, where they stood watching the chase from behind the safety of the glass sliding door.


The second time, the lions chased a kudu through the fence, again in exactly the same spot, but they didn’t follow for some unknown reason. The next morning my grandparents woke up to find a massive kudu bull standing in their garden. He was traumatised from the previous evening’s shenanigans, and opted to rather stay on our property for a while, instead of going back to the Kruger. Grammy and Gramps named him Jake, and for a while Jake was happy to be there. He drove Grammy mad eating all her plants, flowers and vegetables she was growing, but she made an exception because she felt sorry for him.



After a while Gramps said he had become lonely for a wife.. and his behaviour became rather odd, he’d put his face towards the ground and make a 360 degree circle with his horns in to the grass, destroying it as he made these vicious circles. It was time for Jake to go, so they opened the gate in front of their house, and off Jake went back to the Kruger- Grammy said he did stop for a moment, and look back at them before he finally crossed the river to the other side.


Back to the present day…

I told Toni about the fence, and he called the section ranger of Crocodile Bridge.

The fact is, I say it’s our fence because it’s on our property, but actually it is SANPARKS (The Kruger National Park’s) fence, so if there are any problems with it, the park need to be informed. Our property actually runs all the way down to the Crocodile River.


The section ranger made the call to move the kudu carcass across the bridge and in to the bush. Apart from the fact that the sighting was causing a lot of chaos at the entrance to the Kruger Park, it was now a safety concern, as our fence was down, and there were some pretty angry lions lying in the reeds below.


Moments later a game drive vehicle arrived, and three game guards hopped off the vehicle, and tied a thick rope around the dead kudu’s horns, and began to pull it over the bridge and in to the bushes on the other side. It wasn’t long before the vultures arrived.


Skat and I left the scene, and finally went for our day in the Kruger National Park, but after that morning’s excitement, our experience in the park was rather hard to match. We did however, enjoy a delicious breakfast at Lower Sabie’s Mugg & Bean, saw many elephants and giraffe among other plains game… oh, and we brainstormed a lot and this is where and how my blog – Life is Sheedy, finally came to life. I guess you can say, Lions inspire me ;)


And just for your peace of mind… our fence is fixed and working, and the lions crossed the river to the other side. Although, I am certain that they’ll be paying us a visit again soonest. I think they love it here, as much as I do.

xxx


Definitions**


Skat: My best friend in the whole entire world, Zander Scheurkogel, who I renamed Skat, and now my entire family call him that too. Generally a “skat” is an Afrikaans term of endearment for someone you love. He is also my “go to guy” for anything design and computer related. He has helped me tremendously with my business, Safari Creators, and my blog.


Rusks: A traditional South African treat, which is like a hard, dry biscuit or a twice-baked bread. Usually to be had in the morning dipped in either a cup of coffee or tea.


Bella Lump: Our 8 month old, (very cute) but very mischevious bulldog.


Vellies (Also known as Veldskoen):An extremely comfortable South African leather shoe, used by one to walk in the veld (Afrikaans word for field), game rangers and farmers love them especially, but it has now become a style/trend to wear them.


Fomo: Fear of missing out


Bakkie: A South African term for a light truck or pickup truck.


Braai: Also known as a barbecue, where South Africans all get together and grill meat over an open fire.

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