Night Drive Lion Sightings
We headed on our first night drive. It was 8:30pm and everything was pitch black, we couldn't see a thing. Fortunately due to our infra-red flashlight we were able to have a unique view on the wildlife around without disturbing it too much.
We saw the Conservancy in a completely different way and saw many animals that we saw no sign of during the light. Spring hares were jumping through the grasses and we saw yellow tailed mongoose interacting together, a species that you would never see outside the darkness of the light. Naturally I was looking forward to seeing lions and we were not disappointed. All of a sudden a lioness came into the view and was crouched over a wildebeest, clearly she had only just killed it. The lioness was still at the throat of the animal and there were no other injuries to be seen, it was clear that she had only just taken it down.
While we watched she moved to the back end of the carcass and started to eat the from the top of the hind legs. Without the light we would not know that she was hear except for the crunching of bone and the licking of the tongue on the skin like rough sandpaper. I have included pictures which I took from my phone, it was so difficult it was not worth using my camera. I know they are bad quality but I thought it may give you all some idea.
In the background we heard lions roaring, like thunder through the silent air the roars carried alerting the female of the presence of other lions. Interestingly enough she remained silent, were these pride members? Or were they the Rekero males looking for an easy meal? Either way she did not seem keen on alerting them to her location. The roars continued to work there way through the savannah but then starting to fade away, whatever was coming for her had decided to turn away. Another interesting aspect was that she had been able to take down this quite significantly large animal by herself, something not even seen on documentaries, many films often depicting the lionesses hunt being a group affair, while it many cases It may be this was another indicator that life in Naboisho followed a more independent lifestyle.
We returned about an hour later to find her laying sleepily next to the carcass clearly tired after the hunt and reasonably full after her first hour or so of feasting. There was no sign that any other lions were nearby and she remained alone. Our guide Joseph suspected that she was part of the Enesikiria Pride that dominated this area of the Conservancy.
Also while on the night drive we passed Rocky Crossing along the Eneskeren River- the area used by the Sampu Enkare females currently nursing their cubs there by the rivers edge. To our delight as we searched the area with our infra-red flashlight we saw three little cubs, the smallest of the five belonging to Lokoman. All of the cubs were playing amongst the rocks and chasing their mother into the bush, it was wonderful to see. Lokoman was busy washing and cleaning them down, she was showing the signs of being a very content and competent mother and it was great to see her making use of such a great den area. We saw no sign of Esiriwua, perhaps her den site is slightly separate although it is just as likely that she happened to be nearby and we just couldn't make her little family out through the bush.
As we drove further down the river we saw three huge cape buffalo bulls, very close to the crossing I hope they don't find the cubs. I learnt that the bulls would leave the herds once they are past maturity living a solitary life either alone or with the company of others their own age away from the stresses of herd living. Seeing the lions at night was magical, the night belonged to them, it was when they were at their most active. The sound of the roars is a sound you don't forget, especially when you are laying in bed trying to get to sleep. I looked forward to the next morning and wondered which familiar faces I would see again.