Going on safari before the start of the World Cup seemed like an excellent idea. Not only would it be great to see and take photographs of all the wildlife and a little bit of a different of an experience.
I thought it would be driving around taking pretty photographs of impala, zebras, elephans, water buffalo and hopefully lions as well, the Big 5 as they are known. But I ended up getting a much more intense experience in how beautiful and how brutal nature can really be.
On the 2nd day of the safari the rangers were tracking a group of 5 lions that were entering the Sabi Sands Natural Reserve which is just outside of Kruger National Park where I was staying. On the reserve there are two lions, brothers, who are the dominant lions for the region. They had been named by the rangers Mr. T and Kinky Tail and were two bad lions. Over the years they had killed 45 different lions who had tried to intrude on their territory and take it over. The fights between the lions is based on survival of the strongest for dominance and for many years the two brothers were the dominant lions of the region.
That morning there was rumors that one of the 5 brothers had gotten separated from the rest of them lions and was being chased around by the two brothers. The rangers at the reserve kept looking for them and finally we found them just as the two brother lions engaged the lost lion.
It was one of the most fearsome and amazing sights I have ever seen. The two brothers were ganging up on the lion and trying to bite its jugular while the other held it down. After awhile that didn’t work with the lost lion putting up a brave fight.
Eventually the two brothers went for the hind legs of the lost lion and basically bit and broke both of its legs so it could not walk. After doing that the lions started to yell out their call for supremacy of the area and frighten anyone else away.
Every once in awhile the lost lion would drag his body around and try and attack the two lions and they would pounce on him. It was a losing proposition.
The two brothers were not in top shape either. Mr. T just had scrapes but Kinky Tail had hurt his front paw and was limping around. They still seemed victorious in the fight but it was not over….
We drove a short distance and found the other four brothers of the lost lion and they were not far away. It looked like the four brothers would try and exact their revenge on the two brothers that night.
Which is exactly what happened. I didn’t see this fight but one of the other rangers saw it and described it to my ranger. Basically in the middle of the night they had somehow lured Kinky Tail into the open and away from Mr. T and cornered him. He charged at them at full speed running into them and knocking two of them off their feet but the other two jumped on his back and with the help of the other two eventually began to tear him to pieces. Mr. T happened onto the fight but too late to save Kinky Tail and was injured himself and had to escape to survive.
With the dominance of the two brothers gone it looked like the region was shaping up for a long period of fighting until some other lions could claim the area. The ranger hoped that Mr. T could retain his control over the area for 4 or 5 more months until some cub lions in the area could grow up enough to be able to fight for themselves, cause if they were not able to and the 4 brothers take over the region they would kill all the cubs who could be potential rivals in the future. A brutal idea indeed.
One of the most hectic sights I have ever seen.