Zulu - the mighty klutz
December 17 2012

It was non-stop action in Dambwa on the 12th December. Finding the pride in the afternoon making their way East through the centre of the site. Adding ourselves onto the end of the procession we followed them for five more minutes when they all came to a very sudden halt. They’re postures made it clear they’d spotted something of great interest, but with such thick vegetation we were unable to see whether it was puku or impala the lions were focussed on.

Loma leads the pride through Sahara

Kwandi, Temi and Loma began to move swiftly along the road – keeping low to take advantage of the tall grass. Meanwhile, Leya was tip-toeing off onto the right side flank. Just before Kela took up her position further back along the road an impala snort rang out and Temi led the group back across the road and into Sahara. While we hadn’t seen which way the impala had run off the girls all still seemed very alert and lined up along the East edge of the section, spending several minutes scanning.

Having been sat on his derriere up until this point Zulu suddenly seemed to sense there might be something worth his attention and actually began running at quite an impressive clip to catch up to the girls. A few more moments were spent surveying North East of their location before they settled on heading South – and then turning West and settling in Chisamu.

Loma greets Zulu as the pride head South

Not long after, the rains started – it was a brief shower but enough to get the lions back up and looking for cover. They’d barely found shelter when the shower passed and Kela led the pride back East and they crossed Tsavo.

Loma and Leya look for shelter from the rains

Again, the lions all came to a sudden halt; with Kwandi making the first moves onto the left flank, Rusha led the central assault and Kela came trotting past our vehicle to take up the right flank. Soon, we once more lost sight of them and once more couldn’t see what it was they were hunting. Several minutes passed when, to our right about 150m away, we caught the briefest glimpse through the trees of impala being chased by at least four lions. Driving South, we soon spotted Zulu, Rusha, Loma and Kela having stopped their run in Chisamu (we also spotted a lone male impala hiding about 60m North of them).

Making a U-turn the four headed back to the thicket where we assumed the chase had originated. Zulu seemed more interested in ankle tapping Rusha than keeping focussed on the job in hand, and we (along with possibly the rest of the lions) cringed as he made a heck of a racket marching through the thicket to try and bother her some more.

Loma keeps low behind the grass as she takes up position

Again, a clear view of what happened wasn’t forthcoming – but it appeared Loma had taken up an ambush position while Kela, Temi, Leya and Kwandi swept through in a line to drive any remaining impala towards her. But Zulu and Rusha’s procession caused the impala to bolt early, with Loma not quite in position. She made a half-hearted leap as it shot past her but was well out of her range. You’d think with Zulu being the greediest lion in the pride, he’d be a little more considerate of his ladies’ efforts…

Early morning on the 15th the pride was lounging around pan 3. Looking content, there was plenty of grooming and plenty of sleeping until just after 8am when Kwandi stood and began to walk East. Only Loma was awake and aware of Kwandi’s departure and seemed torn for several minutes as to whether to stay or follow.

Loma chose to stay, we decided to follow.

Kwandi calls back to the pride

Kwandi had only made it a couple of hundred metres when the rest of the pride suddenly broke into a full-throated roar. Stopping her in her tracks, she turned around and began roaring back and after a couple of minutes of back and forth between the two groups she re-joined sister Kela and Temi who had moved a little distance away, and over the next few minutes one by one the rest of the pride came to join Kwandi.

By mid-morning the pride was still in the same spot, and the first half of the morning passed in rather sedate fashion as Rusha groomed Kwandi for better part of half an hour and Leya gave sister Loma a thorough clean.

A mid-morning grooming session for Kwandi and Rusha, and Leya and Loma

Just after 11:30, Kwandi led a move and this time was duly followed by the rest of the pride. Half-way through Chobe everyone stopped and looked South and we could just about make out the movements of a herd of around a dozen impala.

Leya sneaks off to take up the right flank, while Zulu sticks out like a sore thumb

Leya immediately doubled back on herself and slipped onto a right flank while Temi and Kwandi took the left. The rest set up a watch in the middle of the two groups of wingers. Ever the klutz, Zulu seemed impatient for something to happen and began milling between bushes to get a better look – which gave the impala all the warning they needed and they raced away East. Moments later they were running back in the opposite direction with Temi hot on their heels. We lost track of her and the impala as they headed deeper into the thickets, but the action was enough to get the rest of the group back up on their feet and following.

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