Wednesday, 20 October 2010

17th October Day of the Lions

17th October

The Kafue turns up yet another day of interest and surprise.

Having been met at Luaska airport and been driven by out trusty driver the 3 or 4 hours in to the bush my latest guests duly arrived at Mukambi , the starting point of there first safari in to the Kafue. After a spot of lunch and a rest I suggested to my new guests (a Lord and Lady from the UK, no less!) we head to the Shishamba area not far from Mukambi Lodge. At first it seemed we would being seeing little more than the tsteste flies which were particularly prevalent that afternoon, that was until we spotted in a dry river bed some interesting little shapes. As we got closer we saw one, then two, then three, little lions cubs! In total we counted 9 small cubs, plus 3 Lionesses on close guard not far away. We sat and watched the pride into darkness, by which time it was time to head back to camp. Along the way we found a Honey Badger ( a big favorite of mine ) and just as we reached Mukambi we found our selves following 2 more Lionesses meandering along the track in no hurry for anything. What a drive!

The next morning we rose early for the drive across the Kafue to the Busanga Plains and my camp/home , a favorite journey of mine as it takes you through some fantastic different habitats always lots of wildlife around and plus a good chance to catch a Leopard or even a Lion before the heat of the day gets too much. As we reached the gate to the park some 7kms from camp Mukambi we spotted in the rising sun 2 very large male lions, feeding on what looked like a baby Impala. What a start! We watched for a while before carrying on following the by know very dusty track across the bush, about 1 hour later we encountered another huge male lion plus a second male and female not far behind. We couldn’t believe our luck and it wasn’t even 08:00 yet!

As we pushed on towards Lufupa rougly 1/3rd of the way , something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. I slammed on the breaks and decided to reverse to see what I may have seen, this was a wise move as sitting on a termite mound was a pack of 5 Wild Dog! We quickly rattled of some pictures before they headed off into the thicket. Wow!

Past Lufupa camp we headed, stopping for some drinks and at the famous ‘Rocks’, some ½ hour from Lufupa camp a beautiful area wherev giant boldours are scattered close to a shrinking oxbow laggon that attrracts all kinds of animals and birds. On rising over a small gully dead ahead of us lying under a tree was a large… pride of Lions! We counted 2 cubs, 5 Lionesses and 2 sub adult males. This safari was getting better, we couldn’t believe it!
Onwards we drove still awestruck at the game we had seen.
As we approached the turn off for Moshi Camp I once again spotted something under a shaded bush, but what was it? We went to investigate and found, you guessed it! 2 more Lionesses! This was madness!
Again off we headed! We reached the Musanza area, at the base of the Plains, on our final leg to camp. We could not believe what we had been seeing! It hadn’t stopped there though as we rounded a corner a saw 1 young male lion trotting off into the thicket (no pictures of him but we didn’t mind!).
We finally arrived at camp after stopping to enjoy a fantastic herd of Sable in the middle of the plains but with all of us in disbelief at all the Lions we had seen!
The afternoon came after a few hours rest and a nice hearty lunch. It was time for the evening drive! We set off and found some wonderful birds and spectacular Roan antelope. As the sun was setting we reached a small pool of water in the south of the plains, but what was that inside it? Out came the binoculars and what did we find but a dead Hippo! Not only a dead Hippo, but one with 5 Lions feeding off it!
This was an exceptional days sighting by anybodies standards. Over 40 different Lions in 24 hours… oh and don’t forget the Wild Dogs!

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