I fell in love with Africa on my first trip there at an early age. My dad had an opportunity to work overseas, so at the age of 12 I found myself living in Africa, residing in Egypt. I have been back several times to both East Africa and South, now over 15 times total!
On my most recent trip, I went on an excursion that took us through Krugar National Park in South Africa. We were on a game drive. That’s why we were so thrilled when we came upon the Super Pride.
Super Pride is the name of an unusually large group of lions. They rarely assemble in a cluster this big, and this one had 19 altogether – including 1 white lion – so it’s very well known in the area. When we found them, they were all asleep, scattered around on the ground. The jeep pulled up in the middle of the area so they were all around us, and the guide suggested that we just quietly wait there for them to wake, hoping we’d get to witness some action. It was dusk, close to dinnertime, and we waited about half hour for them to rouse, but nothing was happening. We were getting restless, there is only so many pictures of sleeping lions you can take!
We were about to leave the area when one of us noticed the horns of a water buffalo coming down from an embankment about a half mile away. So we waited another 45 minutes, and sure enough we soon saw an entire herd off in the distance, coming our way. One of the lions sensed it and started moving. As he awoke, they promptly all got up, quickly shifting into hunting mode. Similar to stalking house cats, they were on alert, watching and slowly moving toward the herd. We were right in the middle of them, they were so close – just 5 – 10 feet away – even crawling up beneath the jeep. I was in the very back, just 3 feet from the ground, and one crept right under my chair. If I had put my hand out I could have easily touched him.
With some unknown way of communication, together they chose one buffalo to attack. All of a sudden, it was so quiet, and then one of the lead lions just went for it. The other 18 of them charged out at the same time and followed close behind. There were a couple trees in the way of our view, but we didn’t want to start the jeep right away and startle the cats with all that adrenaline and focus they had. We waited just a couple minutes before starting up the jeep to follow, but we could hear the lions hit their kill. The buffalo moaned as we went around the corner, and then parked the jeep on top of the hill so we could watch.
It was crazy to see it happening, the buffalo squirming while a couple of other buffalo trying to keep the rest of the herd away. As big as the buffalo is, it had no chance with all the lions on it at once – a lion’s paw is as big as my head! It became very graphic. Most times, a group like ours might see the beginning or end of a catch like this, but rarely do people get to see it from the beginning to the end, especially because it often it happens at night.
I definitely recommend Krugar National Park if you take a trip to South Africa, but you might not have quite the same sort of encounter that we did. This was truly an extraordinary experience to witness.