When Lions Attack!

Trip Start Aug 26, 2007
Trip End Sep 09, 2007

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Monday, September 3, 2007

On our second morning, the drive was pretty slow, at first. The male lions who are usually in Exeter territory had crossed over into Singita, a neighboring property, a few days before, where Exeter does not have traversing rights. We got a report that one of them was back on Exeter property, but before we could get to him he crossed back over to Singita. Later, we heard that a cheetah had been spotted, which was very rare for this area, and we went to see him. The cheetah had killed a duiker (small antelope), and after eating was sitting contentedly on an open plain, face stained red with the duiker's blood.

Thankfully, after our return to the lodge we were not bothered by the monkeys again during siesta time, though the room next to us (the honeymooners) was visited by baboons, which we could hear crashing through the trees. Instead, we watched several kudu (antelope) feeding right in front of us, as well as elephants on the hills in the distance.

On our third and last evening drive, a highlight was seeing a large herd of elephants, including a tiny (well, by elephant standards) baby only about three days old. We took our sundowner stop rather late, as the sun had almost set by the time we stopped. "Sundowners" were a tradition we grew to like very much - cocktails, typically enjoyed at sundown (duh). Every night on safari, we would stop and Isaac and Marcelino would set out a white tablecloth-covered table, with alcohol, wines, mixers, and snacks. We would get out of the vehicle after Marcelino surveyed the area for any nearby animals, stretch our legs, and enjoy a cocktail (or two) before resuming our game drive. One of our favorite sundowner drinks was Amarula, which is a kahlua-like liqueur, except that it is flavored not by coffee but by the fruit of the marula tree, and served over ice. On the morning drives it was also good mixed into hot chocolate. Mmmmm. But I am getting off topic...

Anyway, on our last night, as he parked the vehicle, Marcelino told a story about encountering a lioness in the area near where we'd stopped. As we finished up our drinks and chatted around the front of the vehicle, Marcelino and Isaac started packing up. Sam was (of course) playing music on his iPhone, and Kirsten and I were talking to Nazrin, one of the newlyweds. As we were talking, I heard a low growly sound, but before it could even register, I heard Marcelino say in a firm but calm voice: "everybody get in the car now, please." Nobody questioned, but just quickly jumped in, drinks glasses and all. No sooner had we done so than a lioness came strolling out of the bush right behind the vehicle. We later learned that Marcelino, after stowing some of the drinks things in the back of the vehicle, had been standing there looking up at the stars, when the lioness charged him, stopping short when she realized that she had a person in front of her, and not an animal. Apparently she'd been stalking him while he stood there. After we jumped in the vehicle we followed her for a short distance but she soon went into heavy brush down by the riverbed where we could not follow. She was one of the two sisters we'd seen the night before night, and apparently has young cubs in the riverbed. While very exciting, with two lion encounters in the same place, Marcelino said that he wouldn't be stopping at that spot for sundowners again unless it was still light out!
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