For as long as they have coexisted on earth, there has been conflict between lions and buffalo. For a pride of lions, a buffalo could provide them with food for a few days, depending on how many lions there are. However, when lions do catch buffalo, it is not a case of the pride selecting which buffalo they’d prefer and going out and getting it. There is a lot of risk involved. Although interactions between lions and buffalo can go one of two ways, what the sighting we witnessed a few days ago reminded me of is that we can never predict what is going to happen.

buffalo, lion, ntsevu, majingilane, Londolozi, Kruger Park, GR

Adult buffalos have a large set of horns and can weigh between 500 – 800 kg  – a formidable adversary. As a result, it becomes a game of nerves, and those who back down, lose.

Earlier that morning, the six Ntsevu lionesses, together with a single Majingilane male were found in the southern parts of Londolozi. They had been moving through the thickets for most of the morning and just as it seemed that they were about to settle, one of the lioness’s ears perked up and she began staring into the distance. Noticing the change in her body language, all of the other lions stared in the same direction. Bellows in the distance, followed by a cloud of dust and associated calls of oxpeckers indicated that a herd of buffalo was approaching a nearby waterhole. The lions immediately got up and began to stalk.
Catching the scent of the lions, the buffalo broke and ran, and the lions manage to single out one of the young cows.
They chased her to the edge of the water. She had nowhere to go.

All six lionesses were circling around her, trying to avoid the horns the buffalo was bravely attempting to defend herself with. Then, in an instant, the large male lion lunged up onto her throat, twisting his body around and going over onto his back to do so. The immense power of the male and the additional lionesses joining in as well were too much for the buffalo and it eventually succumbed to the lions. In just a few minutes, it was over – at least for the morning.

Here, the Nsevu pride tries to anchor the buffalo by biting it on the spine, allowing the male lion to get a grip on the buffalos throat.

As soon as he got a good enough grip, the male spun around and began to suffocated the buffalo until it succumbed to the lack of oxygen.

Later that afternoon, we returned to the scene. The male and one of the lionesses were lying next to the buffalo carcass with their backs to the waters edge. The remaining five lionesses were resting nearby. The lioness closest to the carcass looked up as a different herd of about 80 buffalo approached the waterhole. The buffalo had their heads held high, smelling the lions. The whole herd grouped tightly together and edged closer toward the tawny cats. Right on the water’s edge and unable to retreat, the two lions crouched down and began to growl at the herd of buffalo. At one point the noses of the male lion and that of a large buffalo could not have been more than two meters apart, separated only by the carcass of the dead buffalo from before. Each time the male lion would growl, he would flick his tail through the water, splashing droplets onto his back. The rest of the pride tried to rejoin the male and the single lioness, but were greeted by several enraged buffalos which chased them up a large termite mound.

The stand off took place over a period of about an hour, with neither the lions or the buffalo willing to move off. As darkness began to set in, the herd slowly began to turn around and disappear back into the bush, and eventually they had all disappeared. This was one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed while being out here and is probably something I will never see again.

Filed under Lions Wildlife

8 Comments

on An Epic Standoff Between Lions And Buffalo

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Kevin Savage

💪🏻🦁 Wowowoow that was practically a wrestling move by Golden Mane!

Darlene Knott

Wow, that was amazing! The picture of the beginning of the kill was a terrific shot, but the video of the buffaloes chasing the male lion off–incredible! We have seen confrontations before between lions and buffalo. Lions are smart enough to know, the buffalo has weapons that can kill too! Loved this post!

Marinda Drake

Incredible sighting. We witnessed something similar many years ago. You are right Sean. It is not something you see every day. Good to see the Majingilane male is still going strong.

Mauricia Neeley

an epic sighting for sure!!

Wendy Hawkins

Wow that was just so amazing! Thank you Shaun. Your blog said it all 🙂

Irene Nathanson

Fantastic to see the power of the buffalo

Shawn Cheshire

Perfect description for someone who cannot see but can see it perfectly. Thank you once again!

Sally S.

Great video

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