Thursday’s are for family, and lions make no exception. Yoram arrives at Pelican Lagoon, and there, he finds two females, two cubs and a male feasting on their breakfast. A buffalo calf has fallen victim to the valleys most fearsome predator. Bloody faced, bellies bloated the lions eat themselves into a coma. Of course, the kill would not be complete with it’s accessories. Vultures are a sure sign of death, they lay in wait in their masses, their morbid squawking and squabbling plays like an anthem with the kill. Next, in swoop a clan of hyenas, their awkward walks carries a hint of hostility. The clan giggle and chatter and take an opportunity to steal what they can from the kings that govern the valley.
Moving with complete poise and elegance, a leopard navigates its way over the bumpy terrain of the ebony forest. Baboons barks their tormenting alarms as the leopard walks over to a pool, she crouches down and looks ahead of her as her tongue laps up the stagnant water. Some time passes as she quenches her nighttime thirst. The pink of her tongue disappears back into her mouth, and she stands to attention. With the baboons making all aware of her presence, she will not be able to hunt here.
The valley sits dehydrated under the throbbing, unforgiving African sun. The vegetation is so dry it’s as if it has never seen the heavens open. The animals are thirsty and desperate to pull through this difficult month and hunting is a bigger challenge than usual but a necessity in order to survive. Therefore, for an afternoon drive to find the M-K’s tormenting a herd of elephants is a truly mind-boggling affair. The elders of the herd of elephants gather around their babies, one elephant bleeds from the trunk suggesting a lion has caught the end of it but, our largest land mammals are victorious. Tails between their legs, the lions are hoarded off by the herd and pushed out of the area.
It’s almost as if this beautiful male leopard is aware of the fact that the golden light of sunset is bouncing off his perfectly groomed spotted coat. The leopard lays relax, flicking his tail left to right exposing the bright white fur that sits at the end of it. The leopard lays on the camel coloured soil of the valley, perfectly disguised. However, he is not hunting; he appears well fed and is just enjoying his afternoon slumber.
The Ebony Grove is one of those places that one will never forget. It’s early morning in the Luangwa Valley, Shayne has just set off from Kaingo, the air is crisp, but it carries hints of the suffocating heat that makes surviving in the valley in October near impossible. The dappled light of the grove shades the forest floor full of the ebony’s fallen leaves. The only thing that would make this mystical place better at this moment would be an exquisite animal. In true Shenton Safaris style, Shayne finds a big cat occupying the grove. Up in a tree, growing in a 45-degree angle, a lion sits relaxed and confident watching over the grove from her throne. She yawns, scans the forests before navigating her way down as if she was born to climb like a leopard.