My morning started at 4am. The cold morning air was broken by the roaring of lions just outside of camp. The black backed jackals were yelping in warning (as though we were deaf to the thunderous roaring that had woken us). Despite my eagerness to jump straight into the cruiser to try and find these giant cats, duty called. The hot water bottles were filled, the blankets folded and the tea and coffee was made. As soon as the guests had had their caffeine fix we were off to try and find our noisy neighbours.
Within 5 minutes we had found two lionesses and a male lion less than half a kilometre from the front of the lodge. The sun had not yet risen and when the male roared you could see his breath in the cold morning air.
It wasn’t long before the lionesses were up and on the move. The male hung back a little and answered the roaring of other lions in the distance. We watched completely mesmerized. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve heard a lion roar. It is never something you can get used to, it touches your soul somehow. The females moved into a thick area shortly followed by the male. Five minutes later the male appeared again on the road. It was evident that in the thick bush he had lost his female companions and was attempting to find them. He ran down the road straight towards us.
There was nothing aggressive in his manner. His intentions were clear. He had one mission, and that was to find his ladies.
Meanwhile, the females popped out on the road behind him. It was as though they had intentionally looped back on themselves in an attempt to lose him. Possibly they wanted to hunt and did not want the male stealing their breakfast. The male roared on the road ahead of them and they both immediately disappeared back into the bush.
I followed the male for over a kilometre down the road. He roared on a regular basis and jogged now and then. We turned the corner and he suddenly picked up speed running straight for a small thicket. From within the thicket there was an explosion of activity. A jackal ran one way, a honey badger another and we saw a blur of a brown hyena running for its life.
The male lion had found the remains of a wildebeest. He proceeded to lick the bones clean with his sandpaper tongue. As he licked the remains of the wildebeest in the cool morning air the heat from his saliva rose from the carcass. I have never seen anything like it.
He continued to softly call for the females but to no avail. After a short snack on his stolen breakfast he continued his search and disappeared down towards the river.