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  • Marilyn Saltzman

Sept. 12 – Feasting wildlife

(Note: I have graphic photos for this day, but don’t think I’ll post them).

Bonga’s wake-up call came at 5:30 a.m. so we could get back to the site of the lion kill and see what was happening. We arrived in time to see the lioness enjoying her breakfast since the lion had already had his fill, and her turn to eat had finally come. Suddenly, she stood up and ran off. Hundreds of vultures instantly descended on the water buffalo carcass. Meanwhile we heard a roar and saw three lions approaching. They ignored the feast and chased after the lioness. Bonga explained that they were from a different pride, and they were out to capture the female. If they succeeded, they would kill the cubs to get rid of that gene pool and pass on their own. (Lest we judge, remember that humans have committed more mass murder of its own kind – unfortunately including children – than any other animal on earth.)

It was a morning of feasting as next we saw a hyena enjoying a breakfast of ribs – impala ribs! (Is that kosher?) Though his tummy was so full it hung almost to the ground, he protected his breakfast from two nearby hyenas. Just down the road, we saw another full-bellied hyena with the remains of his meaty meal.  A young one approached and tried to get a bite, but he was quickly chased off. A lesson in generosity? Selfishness? Gluttony? When is enough enough and when do we protect our own vs. share the bounty?  Speaking of which, we came back to a full buffet breakfast, and I had to remind myself to curb my zerizut and not be a glutton on the buffet line, though the pastries looked awfully good.

During the evening safari, we came upon an amazing “National Geographic” moment. Several lionesses and their cubs were being chased by a herd of elephants, probably because the lions had threatened their young. The lionesses, flanking their cubs, led them into the woods while one adult went to the other side of the road to distract the elephants. The elephants formed a tight circle, butt to butt, while appearing to decide their next step. The lioness came out of hiding, crossing the road right in front of us, and called for her cubs, who met her in the road. We left before learning “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would say.  We spent so much time watching the drama, that our “sundowner” cocktail hour became “moonlighter.” As we stood on the bridge drinking our adult beverages in the dark, we saw three lionesses come up from the river and cross the road.

We loved seeing the cats all day, but despite our several attempts to follow up on leopard sightings, we never found one. A frustrating “wild leopard” chase and another lesson in humility. Then as we were eating a private dinner on the balcony in honor of Mal and Judy’s anniversary, a leopard appeared at the watering hole right in our camp – trust and faith that all will come in its own time.

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