Written by: Flo Montgomery
Buffalo are the favourite diet of the lions in Ruaha National Park. When the herds move elsewhere in the wet season, some lion prides have learned to bring down giraffe and even elephant, but as soon as the buffalo return to Ruaha it’s open season for these powerful hunters. Sven Liebchen of Authentic Tanzania tells the story of a lion encounter with the giant buffalo herd:
We found the famous buffalo herd of Ruaha National Park, about 1000 animals strong, near a dry river bed in the morning. They were grazing while slowly moving towards the river to drink water. There wasn’t much left in the river bed so they were funnelling down, almost in single file.
Then I saw something on the opposite side of the river that caught my eye. I told the guests we should cross over to the other side and have a look. We engaged the four-wheel drive and crossed the soft sand. The Land Cruiser ambled over with no issues. It soon became clear that the bush gods were looking down on us favourably. On the other side were 12 lions all lying low in the grass, primed for a hunt and waiting for their opportunity.
There was a nice big old tamarind tree which we parked the car under for some cool shade. We turned the engine off and watched for the next two hours.
Some very exciting ambushes were set, and one by one the lions charged and faced off with a buffalo that they had singled out.
Amazingly, not one of the attempts ended in a kill. A good day for the buffalo, and no lions were injured so while they may have gone away hungry, they at least avoided any nasty encounters with horns! We were happy as we drove back to camp for a sundowner and dinner.
On another occasion lions of the Mdonya pride were more successful, taking down three buffalo in quick succession. This film shows the encounter:
Go visit the impressive 1000-strong herd of buffalo as well as the majestic lion prides who hunt them in Ruaha on safari in Tanzania with Adventure Camps.