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Nature is Sometimes Merciless

Sometimes things seem to come right where you are and you don’t need to go far to get a proper bush experience.
As we were ready to leave the lodge for the afternoon game drive, a herd of elephant were sighted walking in our direction, looking for water. I then asked my guests not to leave immediately and wait for them; elephants and water always make a great combination and when they come for a drink at the lodge, you’ll never find a place where you can be that close to wild elephants, yet completely safe.
So I lead them down through the library to the lower deck and we waited for them. When they are not busy feeding and noisily breaking branches and pulling out leaves, elephants come around almost unexpectedly. They walk fast and silently on their heavily padded feet and all of a sudden (as I was starting to wonder if my guests were not going to lose patience) you have a herd of about twenty elephants in front of you. The proximity with the lodge and the tiny human figures waiting eagerly for them didn’t bother them too much and they went straight to quench their thirst. They all spread around the edge and plunged their trunks into the water. Big elephants can suck up between 10 and 12 litres that they then squeeze into their mouth to drink. They are somehow messy drinkers and as they crowded around the small pong, they ‘bickered’ for the best spot and got agitated, sprayed the water around, some of them even went on trumpeting… A really unique sighting.
However, above the mêlée, and coming from rather close, we could hear the desperate loud grunting of a buffalo. I discretely left my guests to their sighting and with my tracker Derick and the other guides and trackers, we followed the sound that led us to suite number 5. Just down the suite, a lioness caught a female buffalo. How she managed to isolate it, was it a sick or injured buffalo…?
Whatever the reasons, catching a buffalo is a big achievement for a lone lioness. She managed to bite the spinal cord and immobilise the hindquarter so the buffalo could not run, but as the head was still active and swinging the horns all around, the lioness could not reach the neck or throat and kill her catch. Lions usually use their huge canines to either squeeze the throat and suffocate their prey or go for the neck and wedge vertebrae apart (the very effective “neck snap”). So she retreated into the bush, leaving the buffalo to her suffering.
We all went back to our guests. As the elephants were slowly leaving the waterhole, they could hear the grunts more clearly and I told my guests about the situation, that the lioness was definitely going to come back to finish the job and that a road was going around the lodge so we could go and have a closer look. All thumbs up, off we go!
We didn’t have to wait too long before the lioness came back, but the problem was still the same, the buffalo could not move her hindquarter but still didn’t let the lioness approach her head and neck. However, probably moved by her hunger, and after a few unsuccessful attempts to the neck, the lioness started to use her carnassial shears (modified upper premolar and lower molar) to open the buffalo and eat it alive from the rear. The sighting became gruesome and a bit too cruel to watch for some of my guests who were starting to turn pale. I offered them to leave the sighting, an offer they took readily!
As we came back, later on, the lodge’s staff told us it took almost all of the remaining two hours of the drive for the buffalo to die…

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