Two territorial male lions had hunted and killed an eland, and dragged it into the thickets to feed. By the time we found the carcass the lions were as full as ticks, and lay about bloated in a post-feasting-frenzy-food-coma. As the afternoon sun settled into golden hour I focused on the graphic carcass, hoping one of the lions would start to feed again, but they didn’t – it was now the turn of the flies and maggots.
The next day we arrived early at the scene, and caught the two lions abandoning the carcass to the vultures. They dropped out of the trees where they’d been waiting for two days, and tore into the remains with great gusto and zeal.
A male lion can eat up to 43 kilograms (94 pounds) in a sitting, whereas a white-backed vulture can eat up to 1 kilogram (about 2 pounds) of meat in a single meal. I think it was an eland cow that was killed, and they weigh between 300 and 600 kilograms (661 – 1 322 pounds), so that is a lot of meat to feed all the creatures that ensure not a gram goes to waste.
I hope you’ve already eaten.
While watching a pack of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) sleeping near a waterhole in the drizzling rain I noticed a few hooded vultures (Necrosyrtes monachus) skulking about on the ground. Every now and again they would peck at something and eat it, and I wondered what it was since vultures are scavengers, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals. You often see them cleaning up the scraps of meat from a kill made by wild dogs. The dogs hadn’t made a kill nearby, and so it was that my binos and big lens revealed they were eating the wild dogs’ faeces!
It is not uncommon to sit in Hwata blind and see dagga boys come to the pan and drink. Dagga boys are the old grumpy buffalo bulls who have left the ‘buzz’ of the breeding herd and often join bachelor herds of other old bulls. The name dagga boys refers to their habit of wallowing in the mud (dagga), mostly as a means of thermoregulation. These old guys are very confident in their grumpiness and often end up walking into the middle of the pan on a hot dry day.
It ended up being a remarkably fortuitous morning as we had started our drive early to look for black rhinos. I drove to all areas with the habitats that black rhinos prefer – areas with shrubs and trees and dense thickets, but with no joy.
Early one morning Jenny and I were out scouting in different vehicles to help the guests’ game drives locate key specific animals, like lions, leopards, cheetahs, black rhinos and wild dogs. At about 7 am we received a sighting update from Bravo 2, which is the main southern boundary gate that links us to Gonarezhou National Park, informing us that they had seen wild dogs frantically location calling and running backwards and forwards along the boundary area.