Year in the Wild Blog

Days 35 & 36 – Year in the Wild 2013-14 – There’s a lion on my stoep!

If you live in a Southern African town or city, chances are you’ve got a nature reserve nearby. In the case of Port Elizabeth, you’re just an hour’s drive away from Addo Elephant National Park, a huge protected area that has wild elephants, rhinos, buffalo, kudu, hartebeest, zebra, warthog, spotted hyena…and LIONS! Just a few kilometres from the main national N2 road.

I spent the day in Port Elizabeth yesterday, seeing my partners Goodyear (who have their head office there), and also giving a talk at Cape Union Mart about Year in the Wild, and South Africa’s amazing biodiversity and protected areas.

I drove back last night at about 9pm, and within an hour I was back at Addo, lying in my bed, listening to lions roaring. How many places in the world can you drive an hour from a major city, and hear wild lions cracking the silence of the night with their booming artillery?! In fact, they’ve been roaring every night this week, both in the evening and the morning. But I had yet to see them…until this morning.

River Bend Lodge is a private concession in the north of Addo’s main section, and I had heard that the lions make a regular appearance in that area, so I went over for a game drive this morning with guides Eve Wood-Hill and Steve Meihuizen.

Well, we didn’t have to wait long – we were treated to a good sighting of two males and a female. These are the offspring of the lions which were originally transferred from Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that straddles South Africa and Bostwana. The males have the characteristic black manes, while the female is huge. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a massive lioness.

These three lions are apparently habituated to Steve and his vehicle, so guests can get really close to them. The lions were very relaxed when we saw them today – in fact, if you know anything about lions, they spend most of the day snoozing, so I felt lucky to get these photos below.

I’m heading back to River Bend tomorrow to try find the lions again, and hopefully get some better light. But wow, just seeing lions again is so good for my soul! I hadn’t realised how much I had missed their presence. And the best thing of all is that they are on our doorstep. Long may their roaring last! (They’re roaring now, as I write this…keep it up my brothers!)

Bath time! How long is that tongue?!? This male is called "Dudley", and he's a bit of a poser apparently. "John" is the other male, and well, he's more of a typical "oke" (that's a "regular guy" for all you non- South Africans!)

Good morning, sir! What a beautiful lion.

The female who hangs out near River Bend Lodge at Addo is called "Jess", and she's one of the bigger lionesses I've ever seen. As big as the males, and according to guide Steve Meihuizen, she is a phenomenal hunter. (Yip, that's a radio collar around her neck, so researchers can keep track of them...hopefully they will remove them some time, because a lion looks better without one!)

 

Nice light on this zebra this afternoon

And a little one catching the last rays of the day

Two bull elephants having a friendly sparring match at Hapoor waterhole this afternoon

The same two, play fighting...

This very confident buffalo bull came walking up right to my Ford's window, and wasn't perturbed at all by my presence. Buffalos are huge, and the ones in Addo are free of any disease, making them very valuable for long-term conservation. Try tell that to the lions, who have a penchant for buffalo rump steak, served rare.

For more, go to www.yearinthewild.com and www.facebook.com/yearinthewild. Check out my Flickr photos at www.flickr.com/scottnramsay and my Instagram photos at www.instagram.com/wildscotty. Twitter on www.twitter.com/yearinthewild.

Thanks to my partners Cape Union MartFord EverestGoodyear, and K-Way.

As well as EeziAwnFrontrunnerGlobecommHetznerNational LunaOutdoor PhotoSafari Centre Cape Town, Tracks 4 Africa, and Vodacom.

Conservation partners BirdLife South AfricaBotswana Department of Wildlife and National ParksCapeNatureEastern Cape Parks and TourismEzemvelo KZN WildlifeGorongosa National ParkiSimangaliso Wetland Park, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Parque Nacional do Limpopo, South African National Parks and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

3 comments

  • Those are beautiful cats and your photos are great. Are they the only lions there? How large is the Elephant Park? WHat an advernture you are having. I want to drive from Cape Town to Kenya one day soon but not by myself. Do you have any suggestions on groups that do this sort of thing visiting all the parks along the way? Meanwhile I live inside a National Park in the US. No lions, but moose, elk, fox and bear in my back stoep. I write about it at AfricaInside. Thanks. Lori

  • Ah, the magic of lions. And I love that zebra’s highlighted beard!

  • Scott, I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about lions. Everything about them, their strength, courage, ferocity…their loose limbed movements. It is truly a privilege being in their company.

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