Action packed day – LION FIGHT – diary extract

How to start the day today?  The day began normally enough by waking up after a night under the stars on the beach at sunrise.  I know this is not a normal start to any day for all people, but at Askari, things are clearly different.

Female cheetah ‘Kusala’ at Askari

After packing up our things and heading back to base camp, we all cleaned up and got ready for a morning of Cheetah tracking.  After Katie showed us how to use the Telemetry equipment, we set about tracking down Kusala.  This is done by listening to the bleep of the collar around her neck and using this to get closer to her, the beeps getting louder as you do so.  It was obvious from the equipment that she was around the river area and so we set off on foot into the bush to find her.  With Katie using her skills to max, we came across Kusala about 5/10 minutes into our walk.  Now, Cheetah’s are generally a little skittish around us, but Kusala is even more unpredictable than the others.  This morning, she had just killed what we believe to have been an Impala and was about to commence feeding.  We could tell this because she became very agitated and charged us!!!!!  There were little spots of blood around her mouth and whiskers which would indicate that she’d not actually started eating yet.  As she needs to do this before any other animals can attack her for her food, we were definitely in the way and she more than let us know this by charging us not once, but three times.  We decided to let her be and come home, as, even though she’s not know for her hospitality skills, had she not had a kill, we may have gained a closer look.  To be honest though, to be 10 metres away from this amazing creature was close enough!After a lunch of Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato soup cooked by Mary, the team headed over to Pidwa South to underake some Herbivore research in that area.  It stared well enough by noticing a few Kudu and noting, via the monitoring sheets, where in Pidwa South they were and the GPS coordinates.  After a few entries were made, we headed further into the South and came across Insenkwe!  After the recent poaching trouble in the area and the potential for the rhinos on Pidwa to be targeted, to come across him, unharmed and just going about his day, was a huge relief.

Lion fight at Askari!

The Herbivore research continued quite without a major event to be honest with you, apart from as we were nearing the end of the route.  We could hear lions in the distance and set off to investigate just how close they were.  The sight that met us when we arrived at the ????? dam will stay with the volunteers and Joe for the rest of our lives.  We were in the middle of a stand off……..  It would appear that the lionesses of the Zimbabwe Pride were in the middle of feeding and looking after their young when the Askarian lions happened upon them.  As you can imagine, looking after their young is of upmost importance and they were NOT happy to have other lions around.  This turned into a fight between the lions (the cubs having run off before hand) just 20 metres in front of us.  The sight of around 12 lions all fighting for their territory is impossible to put into words.  Thankfully, a few volunteers captured the event on camera and video.  The small fight won, the Askari lions retreated and the Zimbabwe Pride treat us to the sight of them walking and laying in front of the Game Viewer, cleaning their young right in front of us and then walking off into the night to sleep off their victory.  Needless to say, the Herbivore research will have to wait for another day…….It may not turn out to be the best day in the life of the Askari team in the future, as who knows what that holds, but it’s fair to say for the people on the Game Viewer today – it was easily the most memorable moment of their lives.


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