Tuesday, 16 June 2009

15th June – Sohebele Lioness Eaten by Leopard!

For the last two days, the body of our dearly departed lioness has sat on the airstrip, waiting for the next stage of the cycle of life to come into play. It didn’t take long for the vultures to distinguish the dead lioness’s body from that of an overly lazy lion. White-headed, White-backed and Hooded vultures were all seen in the area over the last couple of days, but mostly one at a time, and not in any great numbers as one normally finds with dead animals; perhaps they knew that royal blood had been spilt? The resident hyena clan was a bit less confident in approaching the lioness’s body at first, although they appeared to have chewed off the ear and nibbled a bit on the opened gut.

Yesterday afternoon, while sitting watching the Mahlathini male lions resting near a buffalo bull that they had killed last night, I got a call telling me that there were two leopards busy feeding on the dead lioness! I didn’t need to think twice and raced over to see this unique sight. By the time I arrived, one of the young males (it appears that it was the two young male leopards of Argyle Jnr’s) had moved off, but his brother was still sitting feeding on the lion! It was quite a sight, and not something one sees every day. Most predators don’t eat one another; they stop at killing each other, not for food, but as a means of eliminating competition. However, there are always exceptions to this, and these leopards clearly didn’t want to pass up on a free meal. After maybe 10 minutes or so, the second young male decided that he too had eaten his share and slipped off into the darkness, not returning to feed again. I quickly went back to camp, and while waiting close to the staff houses, the staff spotted a leopard cross the path back to the staff village not 20m away. We didn’t manage to find the leopard after that, although we did see a large porcupine near the staff village!

I returned to the lioness’s carcass, and the hyenas had picked up on the smell of her rotting flesh, and couldn’t resist. At first it was just a lone hyena, then she was joined by a second clan member. An hour and a half later, there were as many as six hyenas taking turns to feed, with the usual little skirmishes between clan mates occurring as the larger, more dominant females stamped their authority on their subordinates.

And that was the last we got to see of our wonderful lioness, once again becoming part of natures wonder, but sometimes cruel, cycle of life. The rest of the pride had been reported on Ingwelala, adjoining Motswari, and all six of the remaining members were around, although still decidedly edgy. Hopefully they were on their way back to the cubs to the west, as I don’t think the mother has visited them for almost three days.

I will give you all an update when I return from leave next week.


  1. Hello Chad.
    Your link on ODP drove me here. It is a sad way to start reading your adventures, but I am learning a lot going through your beautifully written texts.
    I will keep on reading them.

    Thanks for the time you spend sharing all this.


  2. Greetings from Oman!Wow! great images and really enjoyed going through your blog.Will be back:)

    Shantana and Arunava

  3. Hi Chad
    We've been in Motswari 3 weeks ago.
    What a beautiful experience!
    You're a great photographer
    W wish you all the best for your career

    Paolo and Barbara from Milan Italy

  4. hey, thanks for all the comments, and glad you are enjoying the blog!

    thanks for the compliments Shantana & Arunava, and Paolo and Barbara - im just glad i have an outlet to share my pictures and experiences i am having here at Motswari!

    hope you enjoy the next few weeks of updates!