Lions face real dangers when hunting
A few weeks ago, back in the middle of July, we came across a lioness that had come across to the Timbavati Game Reserve, from the Orpen area in the Kruger National Park. We found her standing bravely on the top of a termite mound looking gorgeous as all lions do.
However, as she started walking, we realized that she was limping and that she was looking a bit thin. She sat, not even 5 meters from our game viewer, and started giving soft contact calls – it was almost as though her pride had left her behind and she was trying to find them- it was heart breaking.
Later that evening we found a pride of 12 Timbavati Reserve lions close to our main dam area and we assumed that this was her pride family, yet we couldn’t see she her amongst them.
A few days passed, when Peter and Warren found her by the Shindzela main dam lying under some trees close to the water’s edge. They sat with her for a while until she got up; they noticed that she was still limping.
That night on our night safari game drive, we located her again, and found her calling. As we had earlier seen tracks of a large pride of lions, we had assumed she had located her pride, and that she knew where they were.
Sadly that was not the case, as about 2 days later we picked up her tracks; we followed the tracks, and found her again at the dam. She was looking terribly thin and her limp was still very apparent. We sat by the dam with her for quite some time. All she did was drink, then relax and drink some more.
Then, in the distance, on the dam wall, we saw a Spotted Hyena watching her. We all feared the worst – that seeing an opportunity, the Hyena would attempt to harm her.The hyena circled her from a distance, and as we watched, the Hyena moved closer to the lioness.Mere meters from the lioness, the Hyena stopped and started feeding on something – we then realized that the lioness must have killed something small like a steenbok or duiker by the water’s edge, and that the Hyena was being an opportunistic feeder.Even though the lioness had seemed to have eaten something, it was not enough to make her belly look large (as they do after a feed).
The hyena snatched what it could, had a drink of water and left, while the lioness watched carefully. It appears that this lioness has been injured during a hunting attack – probably for buffalo. Normally, lions spotted in the Timbavati Reserve are healthy and are a good weight.
This lioness’s injury has probably healed on the outside, but the limp has remained, making it very difficult for her to hunt, especially for larger prey. She will have to rely on catching smaller mammals, and hopefully when we next see her, so has gained weight… she has difficult times ahead in the wild.
Monika Bydlinski, from Shindzela in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve