A few days ago @michael.laubscher asked who had ever been eye to eye with a lion. I said that I’d do him one better, that I’d been personally growled at by one! Here’s the story
In October 2013, I was on a group trip at @rekerocampasilia hosted by @thebigcatpeople and @wildlifewarren. It was really a fantastic group that included @wildpicha @victoriacoombe and @margotraggettphotography . One day we came back to camp for lunch to find a herd of wildebeest massing on the banks of the Talek River, practically in camp. They began to cross, and as the tail end of the herd had begun to cross, a lioness came shooting out of the bushes on the bank of the river, not 20 meters from us, and plunged into the river. She was going for an out-of-season wildebeest calf that was in the herd. Swimming across the river, she caught the calf, drowned it and dragged it out of the river on the opposite bank. We were all quite shocked. As she hauled herself and her meal out of the river, she stopped and looked around. She was not happy to have an audience, and was glowering at us. We could see she was an old girl, with lots of scars on her back, a sign she’d been kicked out of her pride. She eventually dragged her prey into the bushes on the opposite side and we went onto our lunch.
The next day, lunch was set up on a small patch of grass next to camp, not far from the bushes the lioness had used for her ambush. I was the last one to finish, and it was just me with a couple of camp staff members in the clearing. For some reason, I decided to take an indirect path back into camp. As I came around a corner, I saw that grizzled old lioness sleeping under a bush, maybe 10-15 meters away. She raised her head and growled. I immediately froze. Not needing any more hints from the lioness, I slowly backed away. I told the staff she was there, and then took the shortest path back into camp I could, where I spent the next 20 mins sipping a cold drink as my heart rate returned to normal
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