Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Buffalo Kill!

September 2, 2008 3:00-8:00 am

We spy the "prince" again drinking from Sagana water hole! He bends down to drink. The early morning quiet reveals gentle sounds of lapping water. In the dark, we hold the spot on him. Then Simon spots mores lions lying to the right...with a recent buffalo kill!

A marabou stork stands guard near the water hole, and he becomes the silent narrator of our "lion tale."

Sunlight slowly reveals a female (not the same one we had already seen,) the blond male, an 2 cubs all feeding on a juvenile buffalo. The two cubs are almost hidden, their small heads hidden within the cavity of the buffalo's rib cage. Chomping. Chewing away at the animal's insides. The sight of seeing lions with their kill is a profound feeling. Sheer power. Crushing bones. Sloshing blood. Tearing muscle and organs.

The two cubs run away into the bush. The second male leaves as well, leaving only the female to eat. Then, the "prince" rests on the plain, his regal presence completing this breathtaking Tsavo scene. He then returns to the kill. In submission, the female leaves and rests some distance away. He is obviously the king of the small pride.

Bruce hopes to get the local vet, David Sheldrick, out as soon as we can. The hope is to dart at least one lion, perform tests and a check-up, and radio collar it for further monitoring in the future.

This is a sacred night. To be amongst the lions-in their world. As an observer of the tiniest details. The subtle body language. The lift of a tail or tweak of an ear. The burrs caught up in their manes. The bloody paws. The lifting of a nose, smelling the Tsavo air with a commanding confidence.

I look on with respect and awe.

(Thank you Bruce, for all the close-ups of our lions!)

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