Everything in nature is connected. We often are so distracted by the bigger more obvious things that we don’t realise how often it is the smaller more insignificant things that often lead to big spectacular moments. A kind of butterfly effect, so to speak. My guests and I were lucky enough to witness one of these moments not so long ago.
The butterfly effect – “a situation in which an action or change that does not seem important has a very large effect, especially in other places or around the world”
We had heard that a pride of lions had been found, having spent most of the morning in search of lions, we were pleased to go and spend some time with them. With it being later on in the morning, it was starting to heat up so the lions were most likely going to settle down in the shade nearby for the rest of the day.
One by one they would amble across to the surrounding shade, eventually leading to a natural conclusion of the sighting and a perfect time to leave and look for a nice spot to enjoy our morning coffee in the bush. This is where the butterfly effect plays a part.
Just as we were about to leave one of the lioness’s heads popped up and she was staring at something quite intently.
A warthog, had emerged from a termite mound that wasn’t far away from her at all, maybe 20 – 30 meters. The hunt was on. Slowly and quietly, she began to stalk, placing every foot perfectly on the ground in front of her not to make a single sound that might startle the warthog. We all felt like we were holding our breaths as she inched closer and closer. Eventually, another lioness noticed what was going on and without any visible communication, the two of them started to flank the warthog. It was incredible to see how the two lions instinctively knew exactly what to do without a single sound or sign that we could hear or see being passed on to each other.
The warthog casually sauntered around beneath a large tree, so busy feeding on some fallen fruit, that it had not noticed the one lioness who had managed to get within five meters of the unsuspecting prey. Within split seconds everything erupted, the warthog managed to make a break for it over the termite mound with both lionesses bounding after it. Unable to catch the prey that they had spent so long stalking. We could finally breathe.
The lionesses returned and flopped down next to the rest of the lions and we could relax once again. Although this in itself was a spectacular sighting, we took a moment to think about everything a little deeper. And what we found the most fascinating was the events that lead us from sitting with sleeping lions to being on the edge of our seats right up to the moment where the warthog got away by the skin of its teeth. It all could have been very different if it wasn’t for a few awesome birds, a couple of African Green Pigeons.
Near where the lions had chosen to rest was a large Brown Ivory tree (Berchemia discolor) growing from a termite mound. Brown ivory fruits are delicious and attract swarms of activity from many different animals, but the birdlife is the most prolific. Among the first to enjoy the fruit of the tree on that particular day were a group of about four African Green Pigeons. They began to feed on the fruit, and in the process, some of the fruit would drop to the ground. The sound of the fruit dropping to the ground and the rustle in the tree as the birds moved around was a great indicator to the warthog that there are some free pickings for it to make the most of.
With an abundance of delicious fruit on the floor, the warthog was engulfed and had not stopped feeding. Together, with its head down, shovelling the fruit into its mouth and the pigeons fluttering about in the tree making a bit of noise as they shuffled from branch to branch, created the perfect opportunity for the lions. We were fortunate to sit at a distance and watch the whole sequence unfold in from of us, providing us with a thrilling experience.
Had those African Green pigeons chosen another tree to feed on, we would not have been fortunate enough to witness what we did that morning.