Written by: Simon Webb
After getting up at the crack of dawn to go on a game drive in the Timbavati Game Reserve in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park, my wife and I came across three lions – two youngsters and a large female. We found them lying in the road, unperturbed by anything around them.
What made this sighting unusual was the vast amount of hyenas marching down the road towards these three. There must have been over 20 hyenas on the road. Although they were making a lot of noise, all the hyenas were hesitant about getting too close to any of the lions. The two of the female lions began to approach the hyenas, but they soon lost interest and lay down again.
It was at this point that a young female rhino popped out between the young male lion and two females.
Immediately the females took interest in this and were up on their feet pinning the rhino between them. The rhino kept its head very low and continued on its path across the road. The younger of the two females seemed to think she could be in for a tasty treat. Unfortunately for her, however, taking down this rhino would be no easy feat.
Chad Cocking, a ranger in the Timbavati, said: “For a gal that has gone through so much, a little attention from some young lions was nothing too serious for her to deal with.”
This female was first found with gunshot wounds in December 2015 and, after being darted and treated with antibiotics and painkillers, she made a full recovery. When she was next properly seen in April, she had the telltale marks of another two bullet wounds on the flank of her body and the same procedure was followed. Fortunately she again made a full recovery. Both incidents took place outside the relative safety of the reserve, and everyone was grateful when she returned to the area after both incidents and that assistance was available. Although the reserve has a hands-off policy of managing its wildlife, with man-induced incidents like this, intervention is important.
But back to the sighting… After a bit of cat and mouse, the lions lost interest and lay down. However, by this stage the rhino had had enough and chased the cats around a bit to make sure that they understood that she was not to be considered an easy target.
Interactions like this are what make Africa such an amazing continent, and it is vital to protect its amazing wildlife. Sharing stories like this one will hopefully inspire more people to attend a safari and aid in nature conservation in some way.