Giraffe feast for the lions

It was early morning and we were just preparing to leave the house ready for another days work in the bush. We got a radio call from one of the staff, telling us he had seen 2 lionesses feeding on a giraffe. It was literally no more than a kilometre from our house so we raced there to catch the action. To our delight the lion cubs were there too. Thula and Azana (the mothers) and their 4 (6 month old) cubs were all trying to figure out the best way to go about tucking in.

We had caught them early, not much had been eaten yet and the bush was filled with amazing sounds. The dawn chorus of the birds, the jackals declaring their territories, not to mention the amazing sounds coming for the cubs as they chattered between themsleves and to their mothers. Maybe they were asking for pointers on how to get stuck into this huge breakfast on offer.

We sat with them for over an hour as the cubs jumped on top of the giraffe and tried their luck from all different angles. At times it even looked like they were trying to persuade us that this was their prize and they had killed it themsleves! Pride male Umofokazi was also in the background but cam forward to feed a little later on.

For the next 3 days we had lions on tap less than a kilometre from the house. We continued to have amazing sightings as they fed both day and night. A few of the cubs were mesmorised by the tail of the giraffe and it seemed to cause no end of entertainment as they tried to pull it off!

On day 3 we moved the carcass. Unnfortunately it had fallen directly under a power line and there was now a risk that the gorwing number of vultures gathering would sustain injuries. Power lines are a common cause of death for not just vultures but all kinds of other bird of prey and bird species throughout South Africa.

At the new spot, just down the road, the amazing sights continued as more than 50 vultures fought over the carcass. The lions caught up with it again and we even arrived at one stage just in time to see a lioness chase off a huge number of vultures. the dust flew everyhwhere, there was widespread panic and feathers were lost!

A night or 2 later we set up the camera trap as well and caught yet more action as we photographed black backed jackals and spotted hyenas scavenging from the carcass. Who would have known that one dead giraffe could cause so many great sightings for the Askari team.

©Askari Wilderness Conservation Programme

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