Feasting like Kings

Sunday morning, Caz came racing through the gate and I knew only a predator could be the cause of her rushing. The bush news for that morning: Lions made a kill and they are still there! I grapped my camera and we all drove back to them.
It looked like they had taken advantage of the storm the night before and killed an adult female Giraffe.
The African sun was at her best and the Lions were lying in the shade close by, all but one; guarding against the hovering Vultures and any would be thieves, keeping them at bay.
We left the sighting for a lunch break and returned later that afternoon. The clouds packed in & a storm was brewing in the south, we stayed with the pride for a couple of hours. They picked at the carcass one by one, bellies close to bursting; the lions had all had more than the Lion’s share. There was still plenty of meat left and we knew the pride would stay a day or two.
The following day we went back, curious to see if they were there. We wondered if the Hyenas had found them. They were doing what they do best: spread out over the area and sleeping, only stirring every now and then, for shift change to guard their quarry. The Vultures were still landing in the dead knobthorn and every so often they tested the Lions’ patience and landed a short way off. Slowly they crept closer and closer till the Lions rushed in and chased them off.
That evening after dinner we went back and spent half the night with them, hoping the Hyenas would show and stirr things up. The longer we waited the more it looked like nobody wanted to mess with a pride of ten Lions. We all felt so privilaged to sit with a feeding pride of Lions and to witness the night unfold. It was just us and the pride sitting in the dark, black storm clouds loomed over us, the wind gusting around us and the flicker of distant lightning. All our sences alive and we waited in anticipation of what would follow next.
Exhausted from the long day and from sitting dead still on the truck for over 3 hours, the storm was drawing near and we decided that we would head back to camp and give it another try at dawn.
At 4am we were back on the truck, driving through the darkness to the Lions. The scenary hadn’t changed much, only less Giraffe. The lions were still feasting in dribs and drabs, others lay sleeping As it got light the youngsters started to play, romping about in the grass till it got a little rough then turned there attention to the Vultures and gave chase when they got to close. The Vultures, it seemed, would just have to be patient for a taste.
Later that morning the two big females got up, walked off into the thicket and their soft calls slowly, one by one, drew the others away from the kill. They disappeared and left us with the remains of the Giraffe and scores of hungry Vultures, who had waited three days for permission to land. The surprising thing was that there, up till then, had been no sign of any Hyenas and we have many resident Hyenas on the reserve.
On following up the next day, we found that Hyenas during the night had fed on the Giraffe, so we decided to come back on night drive and observed 6 Hyenas and 2 Black-backed Jackals feeding on very rank left overs.

Story written by: Anna-C. Nagel
Photographer: Anna-C. Nagel & Caroline Schiess

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