Photographs or video. Which one are you going to try capture? Decide now!
Because invariably if you try and bounce between the two during a sighting, you panic, forget to change settings, and ending up ruining both, when you could be getting something amazing.
That was pretty much the gist of it for me when two of the Birmingham males clashed wildly over an Ntsevu lioness. Grant Rodewijk and Jerry Hambana found a mating pair of lions on a large clearing overlooking the Sand River, and as the sun slowly rose in the east, tracker Freddy Ngobeni spotted another male slowly approaching from further down the hill.
The first male, from his termite mound vantage point, started growling as he watched his rival approach (both were Birmingham males, but with mating rights at stake, the gloves came off in a heartbeat), the volume of each successive growl rising as the approaching male broke into a canter, coming steaming in at the run.
The next few photos of this unbelievably violent clash between two 400 pound predators I am kicking myself about, as a small Combretum tree blocked what could have been something quite worthwhile. The sounds alone were terrible to hear, with both males bellowing at each other, mane-fur flying and viciously hooked claws ripping through skin. The poor lioness meanwhile was rapidly retreating, not wanting to get caught up in the fray.
With the lioness fleeing and the fight eventually having subsided, the male who had initially been with the female took off after her again, trying hard to stay on her scent, with the second male trotting doggedly along behind. The lioness swung in a big loop, moving through some dense bushwillows and then eventually crossing a clearing into another thicket, heading back east, quite possibly changing her direction to deliberately confuse the males.
With such superb senses of smell, the two Birmingham males were on her trail again before too long, having been sniffing around within a few metres of each other, all animosity resolved.
The lioness meanwhile was far ahead, contact calling for the rest of her pride. She shortly disappeared into a thick Tamboti stand.
Ironically, despite a clash that could easily have resulted in the loss of an eye or other debilitating injury, neither male appeared to come out as the conquerer, and with the lioness long gone, there was no more prize to fight over. Maybe it was simply a reestablishment of the hierarchy within the coalition. We saw similar conflicts between the Majingilane males, although we are yet to work out the exact pecking order within the Birmingham coalition.
Whatever the reason for the fight, it certainly ranks up there with the most memorable sightings of 2018 so far, and the excitement is still buzzing through me now as I type this!