Ewaso lions kill Oryx calf
A long morning game drive into Samburu National Reserve on the 2nd of October proved to be packed with great wildlife viewing.
A leopard with a kill up a tree, elephants wading across the Ewaso Nyiro River, a bush breakfast with a view, and some magnificent lions.
Making our way towards West Gate on our way back to Sasaab Lodge for lunch, our spotter, Eric, saw a lioness in the distance on the side of the inselberg above Samburu Lodge. We moved in closer and one by one a new lion appeared until we saw there were 2 mature lionesses, with 3 of their immature offspring.
One lioness was sharply aware and staring down from the hill, where about 500 metres away were 2 female Oryx with a calf. The lioness strode passed our vehicle, eyes intent on on her quarry, and not so much as a glance across at us. She broke into a run, and then in a confusion of dust and scrub, we saw the 2 adult Oryx running off, and the lioness had taken down the calf, who stood little chance against such an experienced predator.
The lioness took 5 minutes to regather her breath, with one paw holding down the bleating and flailing calf before finally killing her prey. All it took to keep the other 4 lions at bay was one meaningful growl when the other lioness made an approach. No further attempt by any other lion was made while the dominant lioness was eating. She proceeded to devour the calf over a period of about 45 minutes. The 3 cubs made no effort to move in on the kill, but sat under an acacia tree 5 metres away watching. Having eaten most of the calf, the lioness stood up, and walked off with the remains of a hind leg, the other lions moved in and finished off what few scraps remained.
An exciting wildlife experience in the middle of a sorching Samburu day. Luckily there was a stiff breeze blowing the heat from under the vehicle's canvas canopy, and a cool beer and even cooler plunge pool waiting for us on our return to Sasaab.
For more information on lions in Samburu and the wider Northern Frontier District, please visit http://ewasolions.org, a fantastic conservation project run by Shivani Bhalla. The Ewaso Lions team carry out essential community and conservation work, helping to protect the few endangered lions that remain in this fragile ecosystem.