On our fourth day in the Etosha National Park we found ourselves decamped to the North-eastern edge of the great Etosha pan at the secluded Onkoshi Camp. It wasn’t possible for us to use our own vehicles to get to this camp from Fort Namutoni, so we were ferried there in open Land Rovers. I recall the journey taking about 90 minutes before we hit soft sand that only the Landy could negotiate.
After relaxing for most of the day around the pool in scorching desert heat well up into the 40C’s, that evening our ranger took us all out on an afternoon game drive. We drove for quite a ways northwards before we stopped to take some shots of a lilac breasted roller that had perched itself very close to the road. While we were watching this colourful bird watch us, about 150m up the road we saw what appeared at first to be a scuffle between what we thought were a couple of Gemsbokke (Oryx). I was watching this intently when suddenly I realised that it wasn’t Gemsbokke but rather dust being churned up by lions hunting!
“LION KILL!!!” I think I screamed, nearly causing our ranger to choke on his drink. In what must have been fractions of a second we had gone from being a sedate group of photographers shooting a bird to a frenetic bunch of paparazzi as we sped towards the lions.
As we got there we saw that a pair of them had succeeded in taking down a blue wildebeest. They were in the process of strangling their prey to death and the unfortunate victim was writhing around on the ground, kicking up dust, its eyes stricken with panic and mortal terror as the shutters went into overdrive.
After what seemed like ages the wildebeest died. It’s eyes greyed over and its body stopped convulsing under the death grip the lioness had on its throat. Once they were sure it was not going to run away the two lions relaxed, the male, a juvenile of probably 2 years, simply passed out from the exertion, while his partner, the female began to eat a part of the wildebeest.
When she was done nibbling she stood up and walked off a few metres to sit in the shade of a small depression in the landscape. The male took his turn at the kill for a few minutes before joining her – not after giving us the stink-eye.
We were puzzled as to why the pair had stopped eating from the kill after only a few minutes, but then from miles away we saw the slow steady approach of the King. He ambled across the grassland until he came upon the dead wildebeest. After glaring at us for a moment he began to scent around the kill, making sure that everyone knew this was his. Then he began to eat.
We were fortunate enough not only to have witnessed such an event in a National park, but also to have been the only vehicle at the scene. We were able to re-position ourselves so that both sides of the vehicle were able to get clean shots. This never happens in a National park!
By this time the sun was almost on the horizon and we had to leave because you cannot be out there at night. Back at Onkoshi we went to dinner and from the looks on our faces other guests at the camp just knew that we had seen something amazing. After seeing some of the photos on Victor’s camera one of the guests told us that he had been coming to Etosha for 10 years and had never seen a kill anywhere in that time.
We got lucky.