An unpleasant sighting

After a couple of rainy days spent in the Kruger Park, I finally woke up to some sunshine on day four. Contrary to what I had expected, the rainy weather produced some very exciting game viewing! However, seeing blue skies and sunshine automatically changes the atmosphere around you.

Trying to take in the stillness of the morning, I walked down to the Sabie River with a bowl of Jungle Oats in hand. Sitting on a riverside bench, I was welcomed by the familiar call of an African Fish Eagle. A moment later another African Fish Eagle swooped in and perched in a nearby tree. It had been attracted by the call of the first eagle and proceeded to respond with a call of its own.

The adventure for the day was to travel south down the H3 road from Skukuza rest camp to Malalane. Along the way I stopped at Mathekanyane Lookout. This is a massive, steep granite boulder 10km south of Skukuza rest camp. It is one of the spots in Kruger where you are allowed to alight from your vehicle. This boulder provides spectacular views of the surrounding bushveld.

Elephants in the bush

It is a little daunting walking out in the open knowing that there is a chance of predators roaming the area. I noticed that there was a herd of elephants at the base of the boulder. I watched them for a while. The adults were just feeding on branches and digging for some roots. The two elephant calves were a little more playful. My attention drifted from the elephants and I made my way back to the car. The next moment I heard a thundering roar!! I immediately spun around and scanned for lions, but it wasn’t lions making that noise.

One of the elephant calves must have done something wrong and the mother was reprimanding him. I couldn’t believe the intensity of its holler. I only expected a small little trumpeting like one might hear in a zoo. This uproar ripped through the entire bush!

Some game drive vehicles made its way up the hill. They came from the direction in which I was heading. I asked one of the game rangers if there had been any noteworthy sightings along the way. He said that there was a lioness that had been laying on the side of the road for the last 2 or 3 days. She had contracted TB and was just waiting to die.

Sure enough I reached the lioness next to the road. Being ill, she would most likely have been kicked out of her pride and left to fend for herself. There were already a couple of cars lined up at the sighting. I approached the lioness from behind. I could see that the lioness was rather skinny and worn out. She lifted her head a few times with great effort and you could see the hopelessness in her eyes. I managed to make my way through the cars and got a clearer view from the front.

Lion from behind 1

Lion from behind 2

Only once I approached from the front was I able to see the extent of her illness. It wasn’t a pleasant sight at all! She was curled up in a ball and was just waiting to die. As sad and uncomfortable as such a sighting is one must realise that this is part of life and how the order of things work in the bush.

Lion from front

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