I grew up fishing along the coastline of Cape Agulhas, where the warm Mozambique current meets the cold Benguela current at the southern most tip of Africa. My father is an avid and incredibly skilled fisherman. Time after time I’ll cast within meters of his line and time after time I’ll be carrying his fish home in the evening. He tells a story of when he was growing up fishing along the same coastline and being such a keen fisherman he would go out morning, noon and night. Heading out one day after lunch a friend said to him, “James, you know the fish don’t bite midday. Where are you going with your fishing rod?” Like game drives, morning and evening are thought to be the best fishing times. Smiling, he replied as always, “time and tide wait for no man” and headed out anyway. Lo and behold (I’m sure you have guessed where this story is going) he returned with an enormous mussel-cracker fish… Or so his story goes.

Last week Bruce Arnott and I found ourselves in just that position, meandering around the beautiful Northern section of Londolozi at midday. We had decided to spend the whole day out in the bush, intending only to return for a brief lunch back at camp.

As rangers in training, we are encouraged to spend as much time as possible out in the bush to immerse ourselves in the wilderness, to learn about our environment and to become increasingly aware of our surroundings. Spotting animals, identifying birds, recognising smells and sounds like the bark of a bushbuck as it spots a leopard, the sound of an ox pecker overhead alerting one to the potential presence of buffalo or giraffe.

A group of red-billed ox peckers feed on some ticks found on the coat of this giraffe bull. These birds help to pull ticks off other species such as rhino, buffalo and impala.

After a fun morning out, we were heading in the direction of camp. With Bruce at that helm we climbed out of the Manyaleti River and came into a clearing. We were met by a large herd of impala and wildebeest huddled closely together, about 100m away, all staring in our direction, ears perked forward.

We slowed our pace, looking around for the cause of the apparent unease. Then we understood. From out of the bush, between us and the herds of antelope, walked a large, weathered, dark-maned lion.

The lion kept walking out into the clearing seeming to be completely oblivious to the two large herds of antelope gathered about fifty meters from him, frantically alarm calling at him as if to say, “we see you, there’s really no point in hunting us now”. Some of the braver wildebeest even ran in closer to get a better view of the lion as he walked around in circles, sniffing the ground.

An impala ram stands alert, looking towards the approaching threat. These antelope will sometimes even approach the predator because typically if they know where the threat is coming from they are unlikely to be caught.

After doing a stop start, snaking loop around the area, the lion slowly started heading towards the herd, still supposedly disinterested in their presence. We decided to move into a better position, hoping to get the lion walking right past our vehicle as we expected him to soon find a suitable resting spot in some nearby shade.

As we hoped, the Matshipiri male walked right past us. He disappeared around the back of our vehicle and as we turned, we saw him amble out toward the herd of impala just behind us, who were still anxiously keeping an eye on him. Then suddenly, he looked up and ran forward, disappearing out of sight behind a small thicket. Through the brush, Bruce caught a glimpse of him again and noticed something in his mouth. We rounded the tree and to our disbelief saw, clenched in his jaws, a large impala ram!

matshipiri, impala kill

The Matshipiri male lion drags the impala from the clearing towards a thicket. Despite the entire herd alarming at this lion, this particular impala was caught unawares.

matshipiri, impala kill

The male lion dragged the impala right past our vehicle, allowing us this close up view of his quarry.

We watched in as much surprise as the rest of the herd of impala as this unfortunate, and seemingly dozy ram was dragged off by the lion. The herd had been alarming at him for ages, he had applied no stealth and yet he had managed to catch one. We couldn’t quite believe it.

Did he just happen to find himself close enough to the impala and tried his luck? Or was he intentionally ignoring the antelope, edging closer and closer, without causing them to dart off, until he was in perfect position? There is a common misconception that male lions don’t hunt and that lions hunt only at night. This male had proven both of these fallacies wrong in one fell swoop.

He had also reminded us that no matter the time of the day, you should always have a line in the water, so to speak, because as was proven to us, you always stand a chance of seeing something amazing out here when you least expect it.

Filed under Featured Lions Wildlife

About the Author

Rob Jeffery

Field Guide

Rob joined the Londolozi team at the start of 2017. Having grown up on a farm in the Cape and spending many holidays traveling Southern Africa he developed a love for the outdoors and an appreciation for the natural world. After completing a ...

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26 Comments

on Without A Line in The Water You Won’t Catch Anything

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David Fedonczak
Guest

Fantastic. I can’t wait to come back.

Mishal
Guest

Is this before he went missing he hasnt been seen in SS for sometime

Amy Attenborough

Mishal I think you may be referring to the Matimba males. These males have not been seen for some time. The Matshipiri males have been on Londolozi fairly regualarly the last few months. Thanks, Amy

ramone
Guest

where is his brother and does he and his brother still have prides to control

Wendy Hawkins
Guest

Well done Rob! You were in the right place for sure!!! Thank you for these stunning images & video 🙂

Gillian Evans
Guest

Brilliant footage !! Must have been so exciting ! You never know what’s going to happen when you head out! A lucky day out!

Kim Sams
Guest

Great photo op!! Any sign of the injured brother?

Amy Attenborough

Hi Kim. Sadly we just heard reports from our neighbours that he passed away today. Thanks so much, Amy

Kevin
Guest

Hi Rob / Amy,
Is this after his clash with the 3 Maginjilanes? We didnt know it he will make but seeing the scars on his face, he seems ok. Thanks for the blog.

Amy Attenborough

Hi Kevin. We’re not a hundred percent sure but we think the uninjured Matshipiri male got his scarring from a fight with the Avoca males. But you’re right, the scarring on his face is superficial and he should be ok. Thanks so much, Amy

Susan Strauss
Guest

Rob, such a great siting! I am back tomorrow and hope to see you!

Prem Wilson
Guest

Wow! It’s beautiful Fuller Mane Matishapiri.. I really don’t have seen found to him so today glad to saw him.. He also doing well not never hurt by the Majinligane Males 3? But I am not sure, but where is his brother Mohawk Matshapiri now? Please you can any news about Mohawk Matshapiri injured? Stay safe Matishapiri males are both.. Thanks for the update and great video Londolozi..

Amy Attenborough

Hi Prem. Sadly we have reports from our neighbours that the injured Matshipiri male passed away today. Many thanks, Amy

kathy
Guest

i just love the lions!

kathy
Guest

love love love the lions and leopards…..

Ezequiel A.
Guest

Hi Amy. I think Mishal wants to say that the fuller-manned Matshapiri wasn’t seen from the day after you reported about a possible lion fight involving the Majingilanes. Can you tell us when the above video has been recorded? Thank you.

Amy Attenborough

Hi Ezequiel and Mishal. This video was taken on the 17th of June and prior to the possible incursion with the Majingilane. Although we’re not a hundred percent sure we think that his wounds were from a fight with the Avoca males. Thanks so much

Jenni
Guest

What an amazing thing to witness!! Also love the photo of the giraffe and ox-peckers. Gorgeous.

Jill Larone
Guest

Great video, Rob! I’m assuming this is not the Matshipiri with the broken leg? He is looking a little beaten up but still seems to be in good shape. Hopefully he will be able to carry on for some time to come yet! Is there any news on his injured brother?

Chris
Guest

Does this matshipiri male have any wounds like he had been in a fight with the Majingilane males?

Dan Mathiesen
Guest

We were there in May and after watching this male Lion taking down a ram impala, I can’t wait to get back!

Lea
Guest

A great find and fantastic pics and video. Thanks Rob.

Vikram Ghanekar
Guest

Superb capture, both in words and on camera. Just like lions, tigers are supposed to be active at dawn and dusk. I saw this myth broken on my last visit to Ranthambhore National Park in India. It was April. Temperature in shade was over 40C. I was following this female tiger called Noor who was with 3 cubs. I followed her for 4 consecutive days. She made no less than 4 attempts to hunt deer between 2 and 4 pm when temperature must have been in in mid 40s. Everytime after a failed attempt, she would go find a waterhole and sit down in it to cool off. Another interesting bonus of being full day out in the bush was surprising leopard activity. One particular male would come down from a hill at mid day to drink and then walk on the tracks, marking his territory. Apparently, the explanation was that tigers would be least active at midday, making it safer for a leopard to move about in a tiger’s territory. Fortunately, this male leopard was sharp enough to avoid Noor while on his mid day wanderings. I guess Noor was out hunting due to constant demand from 3 cubs. All other tigers were found sleeping in thickets near waterholes so that they could take a dip whenever they wished!

Lance Hutchins
Guest

Great story and fishing analogy, Rob! Sounds like you’re doing well!

Rich Laburn

Great story and very cool video. Awesome to see the presence of that male lion. Thanks for sharing.

Amanda Ritchie

What a great story, Rob! Beautifully written! Can’t wait for the next one…

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