We are out of the vehicle, measuring leopard prints in the sand of a dry river bed. “Lion!” We all spin around to see a lioness stalking across the river bed, not too far from us. In a state of exhilaration, everyone hesitated as they calculated what the next move would be – take a photograph, or run for cover back to the vehicle.
“Get back in the truck!” We all moved as fast as we could, doing our best not to get the lioness’s attention.
She broke out into a run, toward a beautiful male nyala on the opposite river bank. We backed up the vehicle in an attempt to see the kill, but the action was hidden behind a fallen tree. The noises on the other hand, were eerie and portrayed the situation perfectly. We drove to the opposite side of the bank, but could not see the dead nyala, assuming the lioness had missed.
The lioness moved off, but returned minutes later, poking her head through the dense bushes. Following her, one by one, the little heads of four cubs appeared wearily. Taking prompts from the lioness, the cubs moved into the clearing and began to play with an old tyre, and with the very dead nyala. The lioness prepared the meal, by removing hair with her teeth. She did not eat, however.
Sure enough, a beautiful male with a mane dark and boofy, popped his head through the clearing. He greeted his cubs, before lumbering toward the kill. He settled in, ate a few mouthfuls, then took a stroll to the river to take a drink. Two cubs came roaring over to him, bouncing up and over him before they made their way back to the river bank, where the lioness was now feasting.
This was what ensued, and the whole experience left me humbled, possibly with a tear in my eye, because I could not imagine a more perfect moment.