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.
A call crackled over the radio that the tracking team had found the River Pride on a buffalo kill near Hwata Pan. “Bonanza!” I thought. Not only because this would provide good photo opportunities of lions feeding in relatively open area, and the clean-up crew of hyenas and vultures that would make no bones of the carcass over the next few days, but mainly because Hwata Pan is where we have our sunken photo hide, and the lions would have to go and drink there at some stage during the feeding frenzy. I’ve waited for 10 years to get a shot of a predator drinking at eye level to me from this hide – could this be the chance at last?
The Malilangwe Dam is an amazing fishing destination. The most sought out species are tigerfish and tilapia.The best times of the year for fishing is when the water is warm – a good reminder is good fishing months all have an “r” in them from September to April. That said, we have still been enjoying some great fishing now in May – all the photos in this story are from early May.
It is most satisfying watching elephants enjoying a mud bath! It starts off with the approaching walk, an elephant has when making his/her way to the water source. To describe it, I would have to say it’s an excited, exaggerated, fast walk while bobbing their heads up and down and to the sides at the same time. We call it ‘the water walk’. Even for the novice person you can pick up the excitement of the elephant looking forward to a thirst-quenching cool drink, usually followed by refreshing mud bath.
I was camped out again, on my favourite dam wall that offers a good vantage point and a relatively safe refuge from the vehicle. I was trying to tell myself that really it was an afternoon of birding – just sitting quietly with binos and a bird book and trying to ID whatever came along, and enjoying the isolation and peace. But really what I wanted and hoped and wished for was a solitary black rhino.