Life in the African Safari Bush – A Game of Chance

by Sandy Salle on November 5, 2016

Follow along on Amy’s Botswana safari.

On my recent visit to Botswana, I was lucky enough to spend time visiting Duba Expedition Camp and the beautiful Duba Plains.   You may have read past Hills of Africa blog posts on the area and the lions of Duba Plains, as they are such an easy subject to share!  Well, I wanted to take you along on a morning I spent there following a pride of lions, their quest in finding a meal, and the surprising outcome.  Life in the bush is a game of chance…you never know how things might play out!

Duba Plains is found in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta on a 77,000-acre private concession.  Woodlands, waterways, marshes and vast open plains combine to provide unending opportunities for viewing wildlife of any nature, from plains game to crocs, pods of hippos to colorful birds hiding in the reeds.  But finding and following a pride of lion on the move was what we were after!

The Duba Pride starting their chaseThe Duba Pride starting their chase

We came upon the group, 3 lioness and 6 cubs, as they were wandering across the plains, followed closely by a lone male. Our guide, KB, told us the male would follow along, letting the females do the ‘dirty work’ of a kill, then he would come in to take it for himself.  The females were on to his game, and kept a close eye on him. He was clever, lying behind a termite mound to obscure his presence, but the ladies weren’t fooled.

Getting ready for the chaseGetting ready for the chase

One female in particular was keen to keep the group moving along. There were plentiful Red Lechwe about, and she could see a mother and youngster off in the distance under a tree.  We sat patiently waiting and watching in hopes that we’d get to experience the thrill of the hunt. As Duba Expeditions is currently the only camp on the reserve, we had the scene to ourselves for most of the time.  The other guests from camp stopped by for a quick visit & photos, but opted to head off in search of something else.  Fine with me…less to distract the intense focus of the hunt.

The Duba Female makes the first move and begins the game of chance

The Duba Female makes the first move and begins the game of chance

While the moms were keeping watch on the prey and the encroaching male, the youngsters were more interested in finding a cool spot to rest.  They congregated around a bushy hill, all vying for the best spot of shade.  We didn’t realize until they were on the move that one silly cub had wiggled its way inside the bushes!  When the rest of the pride began to move off we were surprised to see the bush start moving and the cub backing out as it was too tight to go out head first.

Cubs waiting patiently

Cubs waiting patiently

The lead female persisted and finally the group crossed through the marsh toward the tree and antelope they’d been watching.  Of course this sent the prey off, with the group debating whether or not to follow.  Suddenly the lead female took off, the others following close. We couldn’t make out what they were after, but realized we needed to get ourselves in gear to find out.  Not being able to cross the marsh without getting stuck, we backtracked to firmer ground, noticing the male was also interested in what the girls were up to and making his own way across the marsh.

It's all about the chase and making sure his ladies are going to find the prize

It’s all about the chase and making sure his ladies are going to find the prize

It was an exhilarating ride, bumping along trying to see what the lioness was after and keeping an eye on the rest of the pride closing in with the male quickly moving  in from the other direction.

We made it to the scene to find ourselves a bit confused.  There was indeed a kill, an unlucky Red Lechwe, which the male lion was quickly claiming. The cubs were put out that their breakfast had been taken and were quite loud in voicing their complaints to the moms.

Even though he waits and lets the females do the hard work, who gets the prize?

Even though he waits and lets the females do the hard work, who gets the prize?

But something just wasn’t quite right.  The females didn’t look to have made the kill, and there simply hadn’t been time. But the kill was fresh, so what gives?  KB suggested that another pair of females that live in the area must have made the kill.  Our observant lead female most likely could sense their presence, and dashed in to push these intruders off her territory then claim the kill.  Unfortunately, the male was the taker of everyone’s efforts and enjoyed his breakfast solo.

So there you have it, the game of chance!  In the bush there are no guarantees, no promise of success, and surprises around every corner! The animals keep pushing, their instinct for survival stronger than anything I could imagine.

We asked what might happen next for our hungry pride.  KB suggested these ladies and their cubs would rest and try again, and most likely have success.  And with the male’s belly happily full, the next kill would more likely be left to satisfy the hungry bellies of the moms & cubs.

Do you want to learn more about what it’s like to take an African Safari Vacation to Botswana? 

Enjoy our video showing some magic photos and sharing why we think Botswana is one of the best safari destinations for a honeymoon, family vacation or even going with Granny and Grandpa.

 

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