This season has felt more magical than seasons past. And we’ve made some memories over the years that are difficult to beat.
In most seasons, I’ve just managed a glimpse – one glimpse all season – of a Sunset Moth as it flitted out of view; in this season I’ve watched them on many consecutive afternoons frolicking around flowering Cassia trees. And even now that their heyday has passed I still find one occasionally floating away through the trees.
In past seasons I’ve rarely seen Impala Lilies – also called Desert Roses – in bloom; this year they seem to be blooming all around. Even the ones in our garden have come into bloom this year.
And the sightings from camp! This office arguably has the best view, at least from any office I’ve ever worked in – with frequent visits from elephant and bushbuck over the years; I’ve even watched Wild Dogs sprint through camp on several occasions.
But 2017 is the season of the lion. At least so far.
As you will have read in previous blogs, the Beho Beho pride has kept a strong hold of its territory, and has spent most of the last few months in the valley, and many of those nights in camp itself.
These days, it’s not unusual for a morning meeting to end with a warning to staff that the lions are in camp and to use extreme caution during the work day, as we ferry the chaps up and down to the staff village in a vehicle.
But the lions’ presence does not outweigh the parched throats of the buffalo, wildebeest, waterbuck and impala, seeking water from the water hole or at the pools in the Msine below.
During breakfast this morning I listened with our guest, to a herd of buffalo stampeding in the river bed below. Their hooves clanging off the rocks. It’s one of those sounds I always pause for. Phil rushed out of the office – maybe the lions have attacked.
But a few minutes later we saw the buffalo rising onto the ridge in their Roman army formation. They stood tightly together, and as we casually continued chatting, then spread out along the ridge again.
Suddenly the buffaloes began alarm calling, and dust was in the air. I caught a flash of a lion attacking the back of a younger buffalo. Phil saw the male lion swing his head around the neck for what should have been the killing bite on its throat, but at the same moment the herd regrouped and charged the lions, sparing its brethen’s all but imminent fate.
Taking a closer look we watched as the buffalo accounted for their herd and began to move away beyond Christopher’s Baobab. Half-tail, a lioness from the Beho Beho pride sulked in and out of the long grasses smelling the meal that got away, with a fresh wound on her right shoulder.