21 February 2012

Addo Trip - Time for the lions #1

I don’t enter many competitions and generally don’t win anything, but, last year I was delighted to win a weekend away for two at the Addo Elephant National Park.  All I had to do was post a picture of me that was taken at the Park, and the rest is history.

This weekend Suzi and I claimed our prize, which was a two night stay at the Matyholweni Camp. The camp is set on the side of a hill in a valley, where the only sounds to be heard were the songs of the birds and frogs and crickets around us. What a pleasant change from the sounds of the city.

This turned out to be one of our most memorable trips to the Park ever. It was almost as though a special show had been put on for us.

For the past four years we have been on the lookout for lions and were beginning to believe they were a myth, but on our last trip we did get to see two rather large males, which gave us hope. This time we had four sightings of six lions during our two day stay.
The highlight was coming across these three young lions. Well it did not seem like it at first.

After spending so much time looking for them I casually remarked to Sue, “Lions are such boring animals; all they do is lie around doing nothing.”
But Mother Nature must have heard me, for it was not a minute later that an unsuspecting hartebeest came strolling down the hill for a drink of water. When he was still a long way off the seemingly comatose large male suddenly came alive and all the sat up fully alert. The three seemed to have a quick confab.

The large male then he ran off into the bush to the left of the waterhole and the female ran off to the right. The third fellow just made himself comfortable and remained where he was. “Lazy bugger,” I thought.

It was only when the unsuspecting hartebeest arrived that I realised I was witnessing the lions hunting strategy first hand. By this stage the young male was crouching low ready to launch himself, at what he must have believed was his dinner.

The hartebeest quickly realised his blunder and only had one option open to him and that was to make good his escape through the field in front of him – not realising there were two more lions lying in wait, for that exact move.
When the lion launched himself, the hartebeest took off, as only a hartebeest with a lion in pursuit can take off. In a matter of seconds there was nothing to be seen as hey disappeared over the ridge and we were left wondering whether the poor creature had been caught or not.

A few minutes later we had the answer, as the three unsuccessful and disconsolate hunters returned to the waterhole quite breathless.

They were soon stretched outagain, as only cats can, as though nothing had ever happened. Anyone who arrived after the hunt could be excused for thinking that butter would not melt in this fellow’s mouth.


Sylvia K said...

Oh, Max, these are fantastic shots! I have to admit I'm just a tad envious!! How exciting to be able to see them in their natural habitat! What a great trip you and Suzi must have had! Congratulations on the win!! Thanks for sharing it with us!


Anna L R said...

Congratulations, and wow for the lion pictures especially the last one. BTW Max-e, nice camera. Anna :)

Firefly said...

An awesome sighting. I also haven't seen the lions in a long time (probably cause I don't go there often), but these are stunning pics. Perhaps my problem is not staying there and getting in early enough.

S. Bird said...

Ah that is awesome! We were there earlier when it was just the 2 young males. One of them saw a bushpig, which he chased. The result was the same, though. Unfortunately I don't have a good enough camera and the bushpig ran past the back of the car so we didn't get any pictures.

It was also my first time to see the lion in Addo (and bushpig)!

Judy said...

Wow!! What a series, even if they did go to bed hungry...
I love that last shot, just the expression on his face!!
My DD will be in Capetown next week, catching her flight back to Canada. This is the first time she has said she will miss her former colleagues...

katney said...

What a wonder! Great trip, great capture. I am so jealous (though we did see some tundra swans last week.)

rapunzel said...

What an amazing experience!!!! I am so jealous but very glad you shared. :)