Saturday, April 18

When the buffalo chased off the lion pride

It's early on a late-summer morning, and we're taking a quick drive north of Satara before turning south for Skukuza.
Some 10 k's from camp we find a huge buffalo herd crossing the road, extending for 100's of meters on both sides. There are many calves gamboling around and we pause to enjoy the show.......

Slowly we become aware of a commotion on the fringes of the herd and we look ahead to see two buffalo bulls having a fight. As we move closer one of the bulls hooks his horn deep into the ribs of the other.

Buffalo bulls fighting (from my photo archives)
The wounded buffalo starts bellowing desperately and the whole herd seems to instinctively coalesce and start moving towards the distress calls.

I look ahead and can't believe my eyes....... four lions, females and sub-adults, are on the road also looking towards the distress calls! They quickly cross towards the sounds and within seconds the closest, lead buffalo spot them as well.

We don't know what happens to the wounded buffalo as all attention (ours and the herd) is now on the lion.

With no pause the herd start trotting purposefully towards the lionesses with the leaders breaking into a run.

Turning tail the lions disappear into bushes next to the road side.

Having lost direct sight of the lionesses the buffalo herd pauses........ and then focus west across the road where following their gaze we also see the 2 massive male lions in the open grassland.

With no further hesitation the herd streams across the road and breaks into a determined gallop......

They are obviously more concerned about the male lion than the lionesses and juveniles they've just chased into the bushes.
Rupert manages to capture most of the chase on video - it's a long way off but if you watch the video you can get a better sense of the speed at which those buffalo chased the lion. Keep a close eye on the grass beyond the buffalo and you can see the lion fleeing....

As the buffalo momentum slows, I drive through the herd still crossing westwards and we manage to get close to the second male lion as he crosses over to the east following, at a safer distance, the original direction the herd was moving.
As you can see from the photo, this male has been through a few battles before!

With both lion and buffalo now hyper-aware of each other........

....... the morning returns to return its original rhythm, and 
the buffalo resume their push down to the low ground in the east....... 

shadowed by the lion.

Thanks to Asma for spotting the fighting buffalo,
Rupert & Jeorgianna for the video, and
all three of you being there to share this amazing sighting with me!


Gaelyn said...

Great show! Other than the weak, injured and young, it seems these huge herds should be able to defend against lions. But you can't blame them for trying.

Coral Wild said...

Hi Gaelyn.
One also wonders what became of the injured buffalo. If he didn't recover soon enough he would likely become a target for the pride.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Coral .. amazing photos and then the video ... so great to have that snippet of movement ..

Both incredible creatures ... but I too wonder what happened to the injured buffalo ...

Stunning post .. thanks - cheers Hilary

Coral Wild said...

Thanks for stopping by Hilary.
I hope to catch up on some of your recent posts this week.