HI, and welcome to my blog! I am a field guide in a private game reserve in South Africa and below you will find stories and pictures of my amazing job!

October 22, 2010

The Great Escape

We left the lodge with the intention of tracking lions this morning.  We soon picked up tracks and began the hunt.  After one and half hours we about to give up and go and view the cheetah which had been found nearby.   We decided to check a waterhole close to us as our search had led us to nothing but dead ends thus far…  With no sign of the lions we were about to head out of the area when we heard the unmistakable sounds of a buffalo in severe distress.  A full grown buffalo weighs nearly 900kgs and has such a formidable set of horns that only one animal could be the cause of its death throws.
We set off through the bush following the bellows.  About 100m in we were rewarded for our morning of hard work with an awesome sight.  In front of us was a bloodied buffalo gallantly fending off 5 lionesses and a male!  Although out numbered, he was not going to taken easily – even with 2 females on his back and rump, he was chasing his attackers through the bush, thrashing his huge horn at his pursuers.  Time after time, the lions were repelled by the power and unrelenting desire to survive of the buffalo.  The lionesses were taking turns slicing into his rump with their teeth, leaving a gaping hole around his tail.  Claw marks peppered his flanks as their paws sought purchase in the tough skin.  The power and surprising agility of the buffalo was able to regularly shake them loose and left them scurrying for safety from the scything horns.  To be caught by the horns could spell disaster for the lions.  Blood stained their jaws and paws as they strove to bring their folly down and apply the death grip to the throat.  The male lion kept attempting to get his jaws locked around the throat of the bull but could not find a strong enough grip faced with such adversity. 
In light of the chaos on the battlefield in front of us, we kept our distance and were unable to get good pictures (though one of my guests got some good ones that I hope to post on here with his permission at a later date).  The buffalo was crashing through the undergrowth in raw panic and we did not want to get in his way!! 

We watched transfixed for about 10 minutes and thought that the buffalo had no chance.  It was just a matter of time.  The lions were visibly tiring though and during their attack, the buffalo saw an opening and took it.  Fueled with adrenaline, the buffalo made a break for it, running through any obstacle in its way, his bloodied rump and tattered tail sharp contrast to the greening bush.  The exhausted lions had nothing left and abandoned the chase.  We were disappointed not to see the kill but were left with a sincere appreciation for the strength of the most formidable of the big 5.  Overgrown cows on steroids they may be but one has to respect their power and resolve – not many animals would survive a 6 vs 1 encounter with fully grown lions!