In a world of being so connected (you are after all reading this on the internet…) heading out into the bush without any update, no idea of where anthing is or what to expect, is often the best experience.
On a recent trip with Lederle Safaris’ repeat clients (actually more like old friends – and I’m not referring to age here) in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, some of us planned on an afternoon walk and the rest of the group were planning a game drive. So we departed Zungulila Camp and drove along the dry Kapamba Riverbed heading to a suitable spot to start our walk.
We had not gone far when our spotter casually mentioned that there was a male lion under a mahogany tree.
We spent at least 5 minutes looking (the spotter – Vernon – has some of the finest spotting eyes in the business!) and eventually made out the mane of the lion in his typical repose. A few hundred yards further ahead we noticed a lioness casting an eye in the direction of a large herd of puku grazing in the dry riverbed.
We decided to have a closer look in the hope that something might happen and after glancing around spotted another lioness hidden where the puku were moving to. The planned walk was quickly shelved knowing something was afoot and flagged the rest of our party down who were passing by in the vehicle.So we positioned ourselves, cranked our ISO’s in the fading sunlight and got ourselves prepared for what may transpire.
The herd of puku was oblivious of the hidden lioness that had her eye on the only young puku in the herd and I knew this was going to be her target. With the herd slowly making their way grazing along the dry riverbed, the youngster stuck its head into a hole in the sand (dug by elephants) to slake its thirst. This then presented the perfect opportunity for the lioness to make her move.
Breaking cover, she was swiftly closing in on the oblivious puku and only at the last second did the youngster sense the approaching lioness.
The puku saw the (soon to arrive) lioness and took off. Despite the puku’s far shorter legs and smaller surface area to purchase on the loose sand, it gave the performance it’s life depended on.
With 1 x small puku bobbing and weaving, and 1 x lioness in hot pursuit, they eventually both ended up hurtling straight toward us. I thought it only a matter of seconds before a result of lioness 1: puku 0 would end in a cloud of dry Kapamba River dust.
But when last did you sprint on the beach…?
As the lioness gained closer and closer to the puku, the vehicle’s witnesses grew more and more vocal in their support for the puku!
With great delight (and cheers), the lioness ran out of steam (as you did the last time you sprinted on the beach…) and gave up the chase allowing Zambia’s fastest puku to get away.
Taking a deserved breather, the puku was now staring down at a sleepy male lion now starting a half hearted stalk toward the little antelope, but this was short lived as it took off (albeit in the opposite direction of the rest of the herd) to live another day, with survival lessons in tow!
And to end this great afternoon one of the lionesses expressed her delight with the male’s halfhearted attempt at the hunt with some affection!