Lion On Your Doorstep
Lions settle in close to camp at Qorokwe over the past few weeks...
Since we started operating in this area late last year it has been near impossible to work out the dynamics of the Lion population in the concession. We started with a pride of 16, a pride of 5 and a pride of 4. These splintered in to smaller groups and have reshuffled again numerous times since. One thing for sure is that there is no shortage of Lion at Qorokwe!
We currently see 4 different groups, all of them are incredibly voracious! Three weeks ago, on three consecutive days, the same pride of 7 pulled down a Zebra, followed by a Warthog, followed by a Buffalo. All Lion in the area have also become particularly adept at taking down Giraffe, as there are huge numbers of them throughout the concession. All four of our vehicles were privy to an incredible hunt during which 5 adolescents, supported by their mothers, hunted down a young Giraffe. The hunt took a long time and involved the mother Giraffe guarding her youngster, then trying to escape, Lions hanging off hind quarters, she turns around to face them again, youngster between her feet, sees a gap and tries to flee again. Eventually the Lions flushed them into full flight and managed to separate mother and calf. Isolated, it didn’t take them long to pull down the youngster. Although an incredible sighting full of excitement there was also a subdued feeling among guests in camp that night, touched by the tragedy that had played out in front of them.
Over the weeks that all this was happening we suddenly noticed a lot of Lion activity right in camp, responsible was a large female Lioness with two sub-adult cubs. They came in to camp every afternoon and would do a circuit from room 1 to the back of house area before retiring to the deep bush behind room 8. One mid morning, from my office I heard a commotion from the Laundry area, the trio had ambled in to camp and were lazing around just 20m from the Laundry door! The housekeepers trapped in the Laundry were not impressed! We shoed them away, but the next day they were back again. A few days later our Maintenance Man was walking down the pathway, ladder in hand and almost tripped over them before realizing they were sitting in the path in front of him. Again we shoed them out, and again a few days later they were back, this time in the open area in front of room 1 and stalking a sounder of Warthog, watching everything from the main deck we saw Mum try to circle the pigs but the youngsters bolted too early and messed it up!
It’s a hard thing to explain, why would a couple of Lion feel so comfortable on a regular basis in and around a noisy camp full of human sounds and smells, I think it all relates to the unsettled dynamics of Lion in the area. Perhaps they are a breakaway group that feel safe here knowing that the other prides don’t always venture too close. Perhaps they see the camp area as a good hunting ground that they can have all to themselves. We will probably never really know, one thing for sure though is that it serves as a reminder that the beautiful place in which we are privileged to have plonked our camp still does, and hopefully forever will belong to the animals. As humans we may have conquered most of Planet Earth but right here, deep in the heart of Southern Africa the land still belongs to the wildlife, and we are nothing but privileged trespassers!
Danny is the Camp Manager at Qorokwe in the Okavango Delta. He was born and raised in Botswana, and the Delta, to this present day, is this young mans' vast playground. Danny is a passionate photographer and when he gets time off, this adventurer packs his bags to go on solo boating expeditions deep into the wild.
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