Battle at Kuyenda....

The other morning we had a very excited Babette on the radio from Kuyenda.... "you will never believe what an incredible day we had yesterday"....over to Babette...

"Our day began with tea around the campfire, when Willie came running to announce 'wilddog!!' Almost simultaneously we saw one chase a bushbuck through the grass between chalets 1 and 4! It was a fleeting glimpse, but those of us there all saw at least one dog although some of the staff clearly saw 2 of them seconds earlier, as they ran past the tent in the open after the hapless bushbuck."

A morning walk from camp shortly afterwards was uneventful in finding any trace of them. Then that evening...

"over approx a 3 hour period, two (previously unknown to us) male lions followed a large herd of about 400 buffalo onto our plain, and tried 3 times to grab one. They did not succeed with a kill, but each time stampeded them, and in all occasions a victim was presumably caught as it bellowed out:

1) as we were about to sit at the table that we had set out in the open and we jumped in the vehicle to see what had happened;

2) as we were having after-dinner drinks still at the table, when they stampeded past chalets 1&2 and we could see by torchlight as we ran to the river edge in front of ch2, 1 lion on the back of the buffalo and the 2nd one just close to it but all the herd madly bunched and running like hell;

then

3) a few moments later as we drove on the service entrance to the other side, the 2 lions again rushing them into stampede, galloping literally 5 yards from me standing at the passenger seat in front with the spotlight. We switched the light off as the buff swirled around and headed back towards the attack. Each time a different victim had cried out signalling it was caught, but then got away. On the last occasion on the far side of the Manze, we are not sure whether a 2nd lion rushed them from the tree line and turned them, or if they turned to defend the caught one, as they seemed to have done on the previous attempt we had witnessed. But they were going in all directions around us, and the swirling dust was asphyxiating as the 400 buff stampeded so close to us. Eventually they moved off away from the Manze and towards Rhino Loop, with the lions presumably just alongside them, although out of our visibility range by then.

Today we paced the distance from the dinner table...50 metres between us and the lions as they trotted past after the 1st unsuccessful attempt. The tension was palpable through dinner as we shone out into the blackness knowing the lions were in the grass just in front of ch 1 which Phil could see with our trusty Led Lenser, and hearing the rustle of the bunched buffalo close in front of ch4 and over the plain. The 400 of them made a solid impenetrable wall that defied description as we drove out the entrance road where we first encountered the lions so close to them right in the track beyond chalet 4.

This morning we drove out Rhino Loop looking for any sign of a kill, but no evidence and no vultures to indicate it. Very quiet around here now by contrast, but it was wild and breathtaking last night!

I took some lovely shots in the morning of the impressive herd peacefully drinking in the channel, but none of our 5 guests took any of the fast unfolding events in the darkness. I think the sequence of what took place however, is indelibly seared in our collective memories for a long time to come!

Wish you had been here"


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