09 Jun2014

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The previous night’s encounter with cheetah, hyenas and lion was still fresh in our minds. We were so incredibly grateful for the privilege of witnessing that unbelievable scene and just took the rest of our bush drives with a sense of just truly savoring every little experience that came our way. On our second to the last drive of the safari, on our third afternoon at Singita, we had driven by a river in search of cape buffalo with no luck but got a small memory of elephants instead, we saw zebra, more giraffes (Mrs. MM’s favorite) and noticed a radio call had us speeding up towards the same area we had seen the cheetah the night before.

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Literally at one end of the vast lawn in front of Singita Castleton (a six suite home previously used by the owners of Singita but now rented out to families or groups of guests — my likely way to spend some of my lottery winnings, if I were ever so lucky) was the lion from the night before, apparently deep in slumber. Once lions feed on several kilos of meat, they understandably go into a kind of food coma I gather, but you still don’t want to get on their bad side.

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This solitary lion was probably kicked out of a pride, and on it’s own. Probably a little older, wounds on its face suggest a recent fight, plus it had to now fend for itself. We joined another Rover already at the scene, and they had been waiting over half an hour for the lion to wake up. It was late afternoon and we were told as soon as the sun set, the lion would likely stir. We kept a respectful distance, some 15 meters away, and we all observed the lion with binoculars.

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We watched calmly for 20-30 minutes, the first Rover decided to move on, and when the sun set, the temperatures started to fall quickly. Our guide whispered that the lion wasn’t really asleep, more “drowsy” perhaps and as if to confirm this point…

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…the lion actually opened an eye, had a quick look at us, and closed his eyes again.

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Then his next move was just too funny for words. He lifted his legs, airing out his gonads and Mrs. MM remarked that perhaps he was just cooling himself off! This is exactly what our labradors at home love to do when they want their stomachs rubbed. Wait, this is a LION in the WILD!

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We took a few photos, and the lion peered at us again.

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He started to stretch…

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…yawn…

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…and a hyena screeching in the distance seemed to wake the lion fully. Louis, our tracker said the lion was probably thinking he might have a repeat of the night before, an easy meal by stealing it from a hyena…

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Either jaw-stretching exercises or a big yawn.

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Finally, he gets up and heads in the general direction of the hyena squeal a kilometer or more away.

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One of my favorite photos, so majestic.

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The lion walked up to a tree, then started scratching his claws on the bark of the tree.

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I am not sure why they do this, but to the layman observing this, it was the equivalent of limbering up and sharpening one’s knives before killing and cooking dinner. :)

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The lion continued to lumber on…

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…stopping every once in a while to listen…

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…then continue on, paying no attention to us whatsoever.

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This is HOW CLOSE the lion was to our parked Rover. It passed us on several occasions, as our guide repositioned the vehicle for a better vantage point.

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When we snapped this shot, I could have literally reached out and patted the lion on his head. Seriously.

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One more stop, then he continued on.

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We followed him for some 20-30 minutes until he laid down to rest on a bluff of sorts, and darkness set in. This is him looking up at another Rover that came to watch him as well.

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Not sure if he ever got another easy meal that night.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Khew says:

    Here kitty, kitty!

    Jun 9, 2014 | 11:02 pm

     
  2. Footloose says:

    Fearless family. I cannot get mine that close to the MGM mascot.

    That careless come hither pose seems to be offering a macro viewing opportunity for the ladies aided by binoculars.

    @Lee, looks as though only the wildlife are going to be dining on exotic meat in this adventure.

    Jun 10, 2014 | 12:11 am

     
  3. Malou says:

    I am so impressed by you and your family, MM!

    If it were me sitting in an open vehicle, within an arm’s reach from such wild animals, I’d probably be peeing in my pants every minute! Adult diapers would be a must, hahaha.

    Jun 10, 2014 | 12:47 am

     
  4. Thel from Florida says:

    Exhibitionist lion–too funny–promise!

    Jun 10, 2014 | 12:55 am

     
  5. La Emperor says:

    OMG, that is not for the faint of heart. Is there a caged platform ride available? :-)

    Jun 10, 2014 | 1:32 am

     
  6. Connie C says:

    It would seem stupid to ask if it is safe riding in an open vehicle on a safari. They have done this many times and must have good safety records to allow guests to be so exposed. And of course ranger/ guides will not necessarily volunteer their pants peeing moments to freak out their guests. Our ranger shared a hairy experience after being asked. He recounted how a lion put his paws up on his side of the jeep and thinking it was the end of his ranger career, he just froze, said his beejesus and waited for the inevitable. Luckily, he did not smell good enough for the lion and it soon went its way. And yes, he did wet his pants, a young man of 21 at the time. Whew!!!

    Jun 10, 2014 | 6:09 am

     
  7. al says:

    beautiful pictures. thanks again for sharing.

    Jun 10, 2014 | 7:36 am

     
  8. millet says:

    the king wants a belly rub! seriously, MM, before your safari series, i always thought safari vehicles were caged affairs. these open Rovers just bring up the adrenaline levels by a thousand more points, i’m sure!

    Jun 10, 2014 | 8:14 am

     
  9. Betchay says:

    Look at those sharp fangs! I guess no time for toothbrushing thus the reddish hue of those fangs from one kill after another!!!

    Jun 10, 2014 | 8:14 am

     
  10. Mari of NY says:

    Aaaah… the best safari trip I had, by just viewing all your documented pics. They are all so beautiful! Thanks for sharing MM…

    Jun 10, 2014 | 11:50 am

     
  11. Corrine says:

    Amazing photos! I really enjoyed reading ur safari articles.

    Jun 10, 2014 | 1:49 pm

     
  12. Lee says:

    I’m reading/hearing your safari articles with the “loud whisper” voice of David Attenborough. This post however is pure James Earl Jones.

    Jun 11, 2014 | 7:35 am

     
  13. Zerho says:

    The real life Scar from Disney’s Lion King. Everything match the black mane, the scar on his face and being kicked out of His pride.

    Jun 11, 2014 | 12:02 pm

     
  14. faust says:

    magnificent..

    Jun 12, 2014 | 12:03 am

     
  15. bagito says:

    Was loving this easy, “relaxing” post (lol on the belly rub pose, just like a domesticated pet) till I got to the part where the lion was only inches away from the Rover and I started palpitating again. I think I have to find a safari that has glass-domed vehicles a la Pope-mobile so I don’t tempt the predators with my palpitating heart!

    Jun 12, 2014 | 1:39 pm

     
  16. joey @ 80 breakfasts says:

    Amazing!!! What a priceless experience! Although I don’t know how brave I’d be to get near enough to snap that picture…

    Jun 17, 2014 | 1:31 am

     
 

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