This is not a story with a happy ending, this will not make you smile. But this is a story that happens almost every day in the wild. This is about a young lion from the famous black rock pride of Masai Mara. Before you proceed further, I must warn you that some of the pictures & videos in this post may be disturbing.
This incident unraveled in front our eyes one April evening, at the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Masai Mara is known for the annual ‘Great Migration’ when millions of zebras, Thomson gazelles, and wildebeests from Serengeti, migrate to Mara, in search of grazing land. This attracts millions of tourists who naturally skyrocket travel costs. We decided to experience Masai Mara just before the peak season hits and it was truly a time of a lifetime.
It was the 4th day of our stay at the Enkewa Mara Camp. We were out on jeep for an evening safari with our Masai guides Enok & Tipira. Enok took the wheel while Tipira was the spotter for the evening. Since the migration hadn’t started, tracking animals was relatively difficult, it made our safaris that much more exciting. All of a sudden, Tipira asked Enok to stop the jeep, little did we known then that the next 2 hours were going to be our best wildlife encounter as yet.
Tipira spotted a young lion, he also spotted a lone buffalo in a nearby swamp; he was expecting the lion to attack the buffalo. We drove a little closer to get a better view. The buffalo had got itself stuck in the swap, its herd had already moved away a long way. As the buffalo desperately tried getting out the swamp, the lion moved closer.
The lion lacked experience, according to Enok this young lion was kicked out of the black rock pride only a few weeks back. It was most likely his first hunt on its own, if the buffalo even got out of the swap, there was no way he could hunt it down alone. As strange as it might seem, the young lion started feeding on the buffalo even before killing.
It took him almost 30 minutes to go for the kill and he finally made his first kill. By then buffalo was fully covered by mud and that didn’t make it easy for him to eat. Suddenly, he stopped eating, he looked troubled. Tipira was quick in track the presence of another lion.
We weren’t sure if it was another nomadic lion or another lion from the black rock pride. Enok thought it could be this young lion’s father. The young lion could neither eat his kill nor stay there as the bigger lion came closer. He couldn’t hide too long and the big lion chased him away from his first kill. It was getting darker and we decided to move away from the park back to our camp.
The next day morning, we returned back. It was the turn of a 3rd lion now. Another nomadic lion was feeding on the buffalo now. The buffalo was almost untouched, why did the bigger lion not feed on the buffalo? Maybe he never noticed in the first place. Why did the young lion not come back for his meal or did he again get chased away by the 3rd lion. We couldn’t stay there longer, as we had a busy day ahead.
Rules of the jungle are not different from our world. First, the young lion got lucky but his lack of experience and fear prevented him from enjoying his priced meal. Second, the big lion’s stole the young lion’s first kill; neither did he eat the buffalo nor did he allow the young fellow to have his meal. Third, the 3rd lion got to enjoy a free morning meal with no effort, just because he was there at the right place at the right time. I’ll let you draw the connects to our lives.
PS: All these pictures and videos were taken using telephoto zooms. The natural habitat of wild animals was not disturbed or exploited to feed my curiosity.