Gruelling 90 minute battle

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Text and photographs: James Moodie

After yesterday and last night’s rain, the animals seemed to be rather scarce during the morning drive on 17th January. For the first few hours of the drive, apart from the odd sleeping lions or the scattered herds of elephant calling around the corners of the Northern territories, very little was called in on the radio. Just as it was about time to start returning back to camp for some much needed coffee and breakfast, some rangers called in what heard like a buffalo in distress just south of the Main Camp. Quickly the rangers responded and shot out to investigate, and what they saw was nothing short of amazing.

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Five members of the Marthly Pride had singled out a fully grown buffalo bull on the Eastern Bank of the Sand River, and by the time the rangers had arrived, there was already chaos happening between the bovine and large cats. At least four of the pride members were playing a game of rodeo while the other young male was attempting to get at the nose or neck, which ultimately turned into a nightmare for him. The pride had gained control from the rear, while the young male in front was not quick enough to get away from the sharp horns, getting impaled through his right shoulder. Being as powerful as he was, the buffalo lifted the lion clean off the ground, the young boy’s arm flailing wildly in the air as the buffalo struggled to get away from the other pride members. What can only be described as harrowing, the poor young lion growled in pain every time the buffalo swung its head around, and it was for roughly 15 minutes that he was tossed around as a rag doll. Eventually the young male saw a gap and managed to free himself, immediately hi-tailing it away from the action, limping as he went. Needless to say he stayed very far from the area and lay down to lick his wounds.

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The rest of the pride however didn’t abandon their posts and continued to struggle as the buffalo slowly lost power. After an hour and a half, the buffalo finally rolled onto its side, allowing a free gap for the tailless lioness with all her experience to jump around to the front and grab the animal by its nose to begin the suffocation. Eventually the buffalo took its final breath and the lions began their feasting, with the injured male watching from his shady spot, feeling very sorry for himself. All of the bellows and growls from the action attracted the attention of a young leopardess, the Daughter of the Kikilezi Female 3:3 who watched from 200m away until she lost interest and left the area in search of her own food.

It was a spectacular sighting for all who witnessed, and although injured quite severely, we hope the young male makes a full recovery.

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