On the afternoon of the 9th of February our research team tentatively drove through the Ngamo release area in pursuit of the pride; careful of the unpredictable roads and soils after continuing downpours. Whilst rolling slowly into the Kruger area, where the towering grass transforms the boundary road into an endless sandy corridor, they spotted two pairs of ears - static and poised.
The research team crept further forward in anticipation and found other lions slinking away into the grass. Our researcher reached for their binoculars and, as expected, saw a herd of impala grazing - blissfully unaware of the threats - along the roadside. The vehicle was brought to a halt and switched off as to not disturb the hunt and all fell very silent as the last lion disappeared into a wall of vegetation.
KE4 (front) AT1 (rear)
Suddenly an impala snort pierced the air. Chaos broke out and the herd scattered, leaping into the grass and some along the roads. Unfortunately for one ewe her great escape attempt lead her straight into a waiting lions' jaws.
The research team were not fortunate enough to see the take down but once the catch had successfully been made they caught up to the now squabbling lions. As the dominant members present began to bellow their disdain, the subordinate lions quickly high-tailed it away with what they could grab. Kwali, as usual, managed to head off with a leg whilst KE3 managed to take the head, forelegs and a large portion of the spine!
Fortunately for the group Milo was not present so the remaining meat was distributed somewhat evenly despite Phyre’s best attempts to have the lion’s share.
On the 14th the pride were followed down into the Serengeti West area - a stunning open grassland terrain with very little scrub. Consequently browsers such as impala are rarely found here. However AS5’s sudden submerging into the grass indicated something was up ahead.
He was shortly followed by KE4, KE3 and AT1. An ambush was set by AT1 driving the impala into a sprint for life into the Maasai Mara area.
AT1 and the sub-adults closely followed the fleeing ewes and calves and one mother and calf found themselves precariously positioned out in the open and without the herds protection. As the mother attempted to lead her offspring back to safety little did she know that lurking amongst the grass blades was KE4, ready to pounce.
The impala approached to within a tantalizing 20m of the young lioness but perhaps sensing danger ahead, quickly bounded away with baby in tow leaving KE4 with empty paws.