On Saturday 10 May 2014, my mom and I visited Hluhluwe-iMfolozi on our way to a nearby lodge to celebrate the Mother’s Day weekend. After spending the morning driving around the iMfolozi section of the park, we stopped at a viewpoint at the end of Sontuli Loop (just past point 17i for those who know the area). I was tired after an early start so we decided to just sit and enjoy the view for longer than we normally would. After about 15 minutes, a herd of wildebeest came down to drink from the river. I got out the car* to take a photo with my cellphone to upload onto a social media app. Little did we know what was in store for us!
As the wildebeest moved off to the reeds on the right, something frightened them and the herd rand back onto the sand. Suddenly, two lionesses charged out from the reeds below us and chased the herd across the riverbed. They missed on the first chase, but a few stragglers from the herd were at the water’s edge. One wildebeest stumbled and fell and one of the lionesses seized the opportunity to move in close. There was a short confrontation as the wildebeest stood its ground and tried to headbutt the lioness. But it lost the battle as the lioness lurched forwards from a crouch and grabbed hold of the wildebeest around its throat. The second lioness walked across to join her as we watched.
Up until this point, I hadn’t even thought of taking a photo or video. I remembered the cellphone in my hand and starting filming. I didn’t think the sighting could get any more exciting but a few seconds into recording, my mom noticed another lioness charge out of the reeds below. The lioness pounced on an unsuspecting wildebeest and brought it down a little more than fifty metres from us! Shortly afterwards, a young male lion came out the reeds – where had all these lions come from?! He only stuck around briefly as he was wary of the gathering crowd of people at the viewpoint.
We spent two hours watching the lionesses resting, feeding and drinking while we retold the story to others who arrived at the viewpoint. I’ve been visiting the bush regularly for more than 30 years, and this was without a doubt, the best sighting of my life. Enjoy the photos and be sure to click the video link at the end.
Watch the very amateurish video – I was a little shaky from all the excitement! 🙂
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* Getting out of your vehicle at this point is allowed. Please note one should only ever leave the safety of the vehicle at designated points and even then, I think this story goes to show that one is never really that safe! Anything could be lurking unseen in bushes nearby! Be careful…