21, 22, 23 December, 2018. The Thorntree Lodge, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
ACT 1 – The story so far… a pride of lions near Lake Ndutu has had two females come into heat. They have both left the pride for a private lakeside rendezvous with the dominant male …surrounded by 8 safari tourist vehicles and at least 25 cameras. Unbenownst to no one, a second male has also left the pride and sits about 15 metres away, occasionally craning his neck over the tall grass to see what is happening.
The dominant male lies near his favoured female. The second female lies about 5 metres away, occasionally craning her neck to sneak peaks at the second male.
The second female makes some suggestive moves. The dominant male goes over to her. The first female pretends she doesn’t notice anything.
‘Grrrr’… says the second female, and takes a swipe at the dominant male. She walks off about 20 metres in a neutral direction. The dominant male, somewhat mistified, returns to his favourite female. The second male has seen all this, and sneaks over to the second female. The dominant male notices and takes a few steps towards the pair, but he’s tired and it’s early, and so returns to his favourite female. Then he changes his mind and goes for a drink at the local watering hole, which is only a few steps away.
While he’s drinking, his favourite female leaves and goes to visit the other pair, to wait her turn with the second male. The dominant male sees all this, and returns to the watering hole once again to drown his sorrows.
End of Act 1.
Who knew the lives of lions could be so complicated?
After leaving the Ndutu plains, we entered Serengeti park. We saw a second pride of 7 lions who had a mostly eaten wildebeest carcass. The dominant male could not eat any more… but he was not ready to let the younger lions have any. When the senior lioness walked away a few steps to lie in the grass, you could almost hear him think: “I want to go over with her, but I can’t leave the carcass. Hmmm, what to do…” He eventually dragged the entire carcass off so he could sit near her but still have the carcass nearby. One of the young males came too close, and he asserted his dominance quite strongly. Kirsten took a great photo – if i can only figure out how to upload it.
Actually we saw a lot more than lions yesterday. We found a cheetah and three cubs that must be just weeks old. As this was in the park, we had to stay on the roads, so we followed her for about half an hour until she crossed very close to us. Then we saw two hyenas take down a wildebeast about 500m away. We found a dead gazelle up in a tree near the hotel, so there is a leopard in the area. We also saw hundreds of thousands of wildebeast, and thousands of zebras having just completed or still in progress with their annual migration. There is a lot happening!
Today we saw maybe 20 lions over the course of the day including three cubs that were 5 or 6 months old. We found the leopard near our camp, but it disappeared under a bush and would not come back out. And we saw a hippo who showed us both of his weapons- his huge mouth… and his windshield-like tail that spreads his poop in all directions at high speed like a manure spreader. Actually this last one may not be an official hippo weapon, but it certainly would be effective. And we found a very elusive Serval cat – the female is about the size of a big house cat, but they look like a cheetah
We leave the Serengeti tomorrow, and hope to visit the Oldepai Gorge Museum. then we’re off to the Ngorongoro crater for Christmas day.