Day 1 - Our first afternoon game drive in Sabi Sand and we’re off to see the buffalo kill of 2 large male lions from only 36 hours before. The site is marked by several vultures perched in the leafless trees nearby. The lions are not known to the rangers, they’re probably from inside Kruger, and are very wary of the vehicles during the day – retreating from the kill when we approach. As they move off the vultures see their chance and swoop down. This immediately brings back one of the lion who overcomes his apprehension of us to chase off the unwelcome scavengers. The buffalo carcase still appears to be largely intact though the very full bellies of the lion indicate that they have feasted well.
We return to the kill later that evening, the lions are less worried by the vehicle and spotlights in the dark – they are feeding again, this time with a Black Backed Jackal trotting at a wary distance around the area looking for a chance when it may dash in and grab a piece of the meat. No chance while the lion are still so protective of their meal.
Day 2 - Early this morning, before sunrise, we heard the roar of lions close by. What did that mean? Were the strange lions advertising their presence to the resident prides? Our questions were answered on approaching the kill at the start of the morning drive. Two male lions, but not the ones that we saw yesterday! But, again, these two are not from the coalition of five males normally seen in the area. Discussion amongst the rangers over the radio ensues and the opinion is that these two new males are from Manyeleti and were probably the ones we heard roaring this morning. They had obviously driven off the two upstarts from Kruger and then taken over their kill.
These two new lions are more accustomed to vehicles and allow us to take some good photographs. A couple of Black Backed Jackals are now hovering in the background though they don’t have much chance with two new, hungry lions on the scene.
In the afternoon, we again visit the kill at the start of the drive. Yet another change. The buffalo carcase is now almost bare of meat and instead of two male lions we have one male and one lioness at the kill. They appear very relaxed together although they are probably from two separate prides.
Day 3 - The morning drive and no lions left at the kill, just the bare bones of the carcase already picked clean by the vultures, jackals and hyena that slink off behind the scrub at the approach of our vehicle. They have already proved their essential role in the bush, the “stink” of the rotting meat, so pervasive in the last 2 days has disappeared with the last scraps of the buffalo.