Kill skill – lions on the prowl in Pilanesberg

Kill Skill – lions on the prowl in Pilanesberg

Panthera leo – the African Lion – demonstrates its enormous power and kill skill

By John Thomé

Whilst on a recent visit to the internationally renowned Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa, a Big Five reserve, Viv and I from 2BWild Safaris were thrilled to witness a lifetime experience – a lion kill – which unfolded right before our very eyes.

The scenario

A small pride of lion ambled listlessly towards Mankwe Dam in Pilanesberg at around 7:30am  this hot summer morning for a pre-snooze drink. We were fortunate enough to spot them – two large males, four cubs and two lionesses – with one of the lionesses leading by a few hundred metres.

We decided to stay abreast of the lioness as the gravel road ran parallel to her path, adjacent to the shoreline of the Mankwe dam. She wasn’t really in hunting mode, simply checking out the environment ahead of the pride. A fresh breeze was blowing from our right to left, straight towards her. Suddenly her ears flattened and she crouched down, the length of her body hugging the ground.

The reason? A small herd of about 20 Wildebeest were grazing some 200 meters away when something spooked them and they set off at a quick trot – directly towards the crouching lioness – quite oblivious of her presence.

We were astounded and couldn’t believe this was happening. The lead Wildebeest only saw the lioness when almost on top of her and veered off in panic, as did the rest of the herd.

The kill

But it was too late. The lioness announced her presence – standing up bear-like on her hind legs, and at full stretch – then gave chase at breath-taking speed. Running towards us now one Wildebeest made her desperate and vain attempt to escape. But the lioness powered forward and in clouds of dust launched onto the Wildebeest and pulled her down, the muscles of her immensely strong “forearm” visible as the pair crashed to the ground – the Wildebeest landing partially on top of the Lioness.

Throughout these few seconds I had both eyes open, monitoring the animals’ progress whilst simultaneously following the action on my Nikon DSLR, which was firing away madly at 5 frames per second !!!

And this sequence (13 of about 180 images!) is the result!