Safari 2018 #36 Who or what is Hunting Whom?

by david on September 6, 2019


What is lurking just out of sight? What is lurking just out of sight?


There was another patch of cover about 200 yards across an open patch of grass.  We thought the buffalo may have moved over to that patch and found tracks heading that way.  We made our way to one end and started down through the middle, walking a few steps, then stopping to listen and look into the shadows, straining our eyes looking for something big, black, and potentially nasty lurking there.  This was going to take a while, but this is hunting at its finest. Entering into your quarry’s bedroom, so to speak, and outsmarting him. It was during our third pause to look and listen when Mikey noticed something. His observation completely changed the game we had been playing with Mother Nature.  Lion tracks. Lots of them and very fresh ones to boot. At this point it was not entirely clear who was being hunted and by whom. Johann took the lead, followed by ranger George. Mikey, like George, was unarmed so I put him in front of me. A small swirl in the wind brought the smell of something dead to our nostrils.  A second swirl a few seconds later removed all traces of it. I have seen lions defending their kill and it was not a pretty sight. I did not want to blunder upon a kill and end up adding to the lion’s larder. We continued our slow, methodical pace with both eyes wide open — one for buffalo and the other for lions. While we were stopped looking and listening, it dawned on me that lions will normally not come from the front unless they deem something is attacking.  Often if they are hunting they will take a straggler or the last animal in the group to pass by. It then dawned on me that I was the last in the group. Oops. A rifle of rather large caliber was some comfort to me. A second pair of eyes in the back of my head would have been even more of a comfort to me. We finished our stalk down the middle of the cover and started our way back up the far side. Turned out I completely wasted a good dose of adrenaline as we found the tracks left by the lions as they left the scrub.  George and Johann thought they left their hiding spot just as soon as we walked by and they could leave without being seen. We found the buffalo tracks a few yards further on. Evidently, the lions were hunting the buffalo when we entered the picture. The buff left post haste and the lions hung around long enough to watch us pass by. This was as close as I have ever been to wild lions while I was on foot. The feeling was amazing. Every sense razor sharp and attuned to any little thing. There is something exhilarating about being very close to dangerous game and the dangerous game having the opportunity to turn the tables on the hunter, making the hunter the hunted. Perhaps it is walking the same path with death and knowing he could be around the next corner that  makes me feel so alive. After all don’t we cherish life the most, and hold on to it the tightest when it is the most fleeting?

Sundowners are always better when you have a great story to tell, and tonight’s was a doozy.


We are. We are.

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