Before heading out on a drive every morning Rangers and Trackers meet to discuss where and what they would like to try and see for that drive. After chatting with tracker Bennet, we decided that we hadn’t been into the northern parts of the property for a couple days and that we should head to this picturesque area for our morning game drive.
Shortly after crossing the Sand River, we were sitting at Marthly pools taking in its beauty when Innocent from the Tracker Academy called in on the radio that he had heard hyenas fighting. We decided to go and give him a hand because the sound of many hyenas usually leads you to something exciting. After searching the area for a bit Innocent finally found where the commotion was coming from. We quickly got to the scene and what we were greeted with was a sight to behold.
On the eastern bank on the Manyelethi River, we found +-25 hyena feeding on a relatively fresh giraffe carcass, the senses in a situation like this are working on overload. It seemed as though there were two different clans of hyenas that were battling to feed on the carcass as a constant groaning and whooping were coming from the different clans. After quite a few interactions and fights that happened in front of us, it seemed as though one clan had earned the right to continue feeding on the giraffe.
The fact that there were only hyenas feeding on the giraffe made us think that this giraffe had died from either natural causes or during a fight with another male to win the mating rights to females nearby. Why we were leaning towards the latter was due to the fact that Bennet pointed out where it looked like the giraffe had fallen and hit either its head or neck on a tree stump that was next to it. You can only imagine the force that a fully grown male giraffe creates when it falls to the ground and unfortunately this is how we think this giraffe passed on.
We sat watching the giraffe disappear in front of us for about an hour before we decided to go enjoy a nice cup of coffee and made the call that we would come back to that spot the following morning. The following morning, we went to see what had happened the night before. Again, we were treated to an amazing sight of 50+ White-backed Vultures feeding on the remains of the giraffe as well as a couple very fat hyenas scattered around the area. It was a very airy atmosphere as we approached with all the hooded vultures sitting in the trees around the carcass as the White-backed Vultures accompanied by a few Lappet-Faced Vultures.
Shortly after we arrived, we saw a couple of the hyena’s heads rise from their deep sleep and before we knew it, there were vultures scattering away as quick as possible because a young male lion came hurtling into the scene. This young male never really felt at ease while feeding on the giraffe because of the presence of quite a few hyenas and lots of vultures, although he could probably fend them all off he ate for a short space of time and left quite abruptly after getting his full.
A sighting like this always gets my interest because we probably spent 2 to 3 hours around this giraffe and witnessed a hive of activity in such a short space of time. Although it’s sad to witness such a unique animal being fed on, the amount of life that benefitted from this bull’s life is huge. Watching nature at its most raw is what keeps us all coming back to the bush.
Filed under Lions Photography Wildlife
Life and death are intertwined in life, in nature whether we like it or not.
Great post Patrick, my senses were keen and alive just reading and looking at the pictures! I also love how you concluded the blog with the circle of life in the bush. Well done!
At least nothing goes to waste in nature. We can’t say the same about civilization.
Great pictures Patrick. As messy as death in the natural world is, it sustains life in the ongoing cycle.
Hi Patrick, it is sad that such a beautiful animal had died in the way that Bennett suspected the giraffe had died. But the circle of life carries on and many hyenas and a lion, vultures were feed. That is nature and it us often heartbreaking to see, but must happen.
That was an amazing sequence of predators!
A nice blog Patrick. Sad about the giraffe, however, as you said, it’s unfortunate demise meant that many others got to have a good meal. Yes, the circle of life. Thanks for sharing with us.
It was good to read this post Patrick and see how this giraffe death enabled mammals and birds alike to continue their survival in the bush. As heartbreaking it is to witness the desecration of such a beautiful animal as the giraffe, it highlights the always present circle of life. Nothing and no one lives forever….
What a spectacle to see Patrick ! That one giraffe gave the essentials of life to +-25 hyena, 50 odd vultures and a lion not to mention the little critters…and perhaps the winning giraffe, being the stronger of the two, will bring new life to his herd. The law of nature always gives something back. Fabulous photos thank you 🙏🏻❤️
Great sighting. Im surprised all of the commotion and huge pile of meat did not attract a lot of lions.