On Thursday the 12th we saw that a secretary bird had taken up residence in the release site. While we’ve already got some rather impressive avian species in Dambwa, this is the first time we’ve seen this large ground-hunting bird here.
On Thursday it was pottering around in Sahara while the pride was in Kariba. But in the intervening days it would seem the lions have encountered their new site-mate. On Thursday it had been quite tolerant of our vehicle, but by this afternoon (14th) when we found it hunting in Kariba it ran off like a nervous hen. Today the lions were also once more in Kariba – only a couple of hundred metres from where we’d seen a quick glimpse of the bird.
Temi, Loma & Leya
Heading off to find the pride we found them in their usual restive form, but as they slept we once more spotted the bird – this time warming its wings in a tree about 200m away. A rustle of feathers woke the lions – and they seemed to know this was something worth seeking out, as Temi led a blisteringly fast charge into the burnt clearing just below the tree where the bird was perched.
Loma, Temi, Leya & Kela (Secretary Bird in tree top left)
As the pride gathered around the bottom of the tree, the bird was well and truly staying in its perch a good 20m above its new-found admirers. Leya seemed to contemplate scaling the tree – but she knew she didn’t stand a chance.
Everyone else seemed content to wait the bird out, but Leya wasn’t having any of it and led Kela, then Temi, Loma, Kwandi and a little way behind Zulu and Rusha North towards Waterpan 1.Losing them in the tall grass for several minutes we eventually caught up to them just the other side of the pan. As they stopped to rest once more, it was time for us to leave – passing a herd of 20 impala at waterpan 3 on the way out we willed them to leave the secretary alone and aim for something a little more in their league.