In today’s shallow and materialistic world we have forgotten the meaning of loyalty. Loyalty within the African Bush runs thick, and every now and then as a guide we are allowed to witness such acts – acts that leave both the guide and guest absolutely speechless and at awe.
The Sparta Pride has been on the run for some time now – running to keep the remaining sub-adults out of the Mapogo’s reach. During this time, two of the three lead lionesses strategically split from the pride, to sire the young of the Mapogo and in doing so keep their previous litters safe. The result was that the pride was left to fend for themselves and as such the young needed to grow up, and grow up fast.
In a very short period of time, the pride’s young have proven themselves to be extremely skillful at buffalo hunting, and this sighting was an example of an immaculate execution of such a hunt. Without the experience of the 2 adult lionesses, the Sparta Pride has been forced to rely on the power of the young males in the pride to provide.
Having ingeniously split the large herd of buffalo into bulls in the east and cows and calves to the west, the young males could go about isolating and hunting one of the calves in the herd, without the concern of the retaliation of the big bulls. For the next two and a half hours eighteen guests witnessed in broad daylight an immense and draining battle between two of the most powerful African beasts.
In a dramatic show of loyalty, the cows repeatedly attempted to chase the feeding pride off the carcass, invoking countless aggressive responses from the lions charging after the fleeting herd. This ding dong battle continued for some time, before the bulls, finally, returned stampeding towards the pride, which was now wedged between the bulls and the cows.
A young male was taught a valuable lesson in buffalo interaction, narrowly escaping disaster twice. The first mistake was climbing a flimsy bush in an attempt to escape the enraged bovines. On this occasion he managed to slip through the herd unscathed, and hid on top of a termite mound – his second and biggest mistake. Completely surrounded by the massive beasts, the panic stricken lion was flicked in the air and was trampled before miraculously squeezing out from under the hooves of the 600kg beasts to safety.
The herd returned to the carcass in an emotionally charged scene as the mother of the calf desperately tried to piece the body together, and encourage the young calf to rise to its feet. This continued for some time before, and a bull flicked the carcass in the air in a last desperate attempt to bring the body back to life. There are no words to quantum the loyalty of buffalo.
The sad realization finally set in, and every member of the herd slowly moved past the lifeless calf to pay their respects. And as the cows cast their last hopeful glances back from a distance towards the calf lying alone in Shingalana clearing, one can only imagine the grief experienced as they watched the lions feed.
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