So there we were out on the landrover, checking out some of our our new lion cubs – the main Azura pride has three new little ones this year, and the Walkers pride has two – when the pack of wild dogs that often frequent our area came bouncing out of the bush right in front of us!
One… two… then eventually all 18 of them emerged from differing directions.
It was as if the lions, king of their terrain after all, didn’t care, and life carried on as usual as the parents and cubs casually chewed on a warthog bone that we had seen them kill earlier in the day. Right up until the first wild dog appeared… then mother lion leapt into action, roaring and running in the direction of the wild dog alpha female.
So what happened? Who would run from who?
Our vehicles sped to the scene of engagement. The lions, being just three adults, were seriously outnumbered. They closed to within metres, then they just looked at each other in a respectful kind of way, before the wild dogs turned tail, re-grouped, and bounced off in the direction they had come from to carry on their hunt for that morning.
These encounters between lion and wild dog are very common at Azura Selous in southern Tanzania, which I often call ‘predator central’. I was amazed at the restraint from the mother lion, having already lost one of her cubs this season. She has been unable to produce milk, and even her remaining cub looked perilously thin.
My daughter named the cub Farah, after Mo Farah the runner, because despite being thin it would need to be able to run long distances to survive.
Seeing it share in the warthog kill was a wonderful moment, meaning a move on to solids, and a much better chance of survival. Let’s hope little Farah doesn’t have too many more run-ins with the wild dog pack and makes it through okay.
*One of the Africa Geographic team recently enjoyed a special trip up to Azura Selous, to be featured in one of our upcoming online magazine articles. Stay tuned for an inspiring feature on this special Tanzanian wilderness.