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Daily Diary: Duba Plains - March 2012 / Last Drive
No one wanted to miss a moment of their last drive this morning ... Would the final morning be as exhilarating and bring opportunities to equal the previous days?
Setting out really early, the first great excitement was the huge herd of buffalo who had moved almost up to the lodge and were therefore encountered within moments.
As the sun rose, glorious landscapes unfolded, this time with the buffalo in the foreground.
Having filled memory cards with these beautiful images, it was time to move on, and less than a kilometre away ... another pride of lions.
A large male, three females and two biggish cubs were on the move. All could see that this was a group on the hunt, and the ODP safari group stuck close by. (They anxiously looked at their watches - not too long before they would have to leave to catch the flight back home ... uh oh!)
The light was spectacular as the pride crept through the long grass, crossed water, the cubs joyfully joining in, climbing trees, leaping across streams and thoroughly enjoying themselves. As were the ODP group whose cameras were busier than ever.
Closer and closer the pride moved toward the buffalo - ever closer and ever stealthier, ever quieter.
As they caught up with the buffalo, the hunt started in earnest.
The lionesses surrounded the buffalo, who grazed peacefully, oblivious ...
(Luck was on the side of the group. It was time to return to the lodge for their flight, but they received a message ... their flight home was delayed for a few hours ...)
The peaceful ambience, as the lions positioned themselves gave the vehicles the opportunity to position themselves really well for any action.
Just in time!
Suddenly there was an explosion of buffalo, water, lions, more water, calves, and an amazing commotion as the buffalo tried to flee through the water, splashing, spraying, bellowing, running, panic!
One lioness jumped, grabbed and instantly killed a buffalo calf, and then ignored it. She had what she wanted ... the mother returned to rescue her little one. The lioness leapt onto the back of mother, almost immediately followed by the other two lionesses.
Then with a mighty heave, she shook free, and the lionesses fell off. The buffalo trotted back to her herd.
And the lionesses?
Undaunted they started again. Their strategy soon became apparent. They would chase a calf, frighten it, and when the mother turned to help her stricken youngster, they would isolate the mother further and further from the herd.
They started by chasing the buffalo through deep water, where the calves struggled to keep up. They chose one calf who they proceeded to frighten, and the mother turned to assist.
Again and again they implemented this ploy, until the mother was almost completely separated from the herd.
Finally after more than a half hour of this the lionesses were tiring, and decided to kill the calf. They now had two calves to share.
(can you imagine those cameras clicking away to capture this awesome moment of nature)
What an amazing end to a wonderful safari. Not one person missed shots and everyone came away with winners ... and the experience !
The new ODP Safari group arrived at around 14:30, and after a meeting and briefing, and after hearing about the mornings excitement, they were really eager to get started.
Returning to the lions found them finishing off the remains of the two calves.
As the ODP group neared the buffalo herd, a second pride of lions could be heard close by, closing in on their prey.