Breaking the news that there’s a male lion in the area often creates pandemonium in a game reserve. To me it is almost more interesting watching the people’s various reactions and responses to the sighting than the sighting itself.
I had spent a morning game drive searching for lions and eventually found a pride sleeping under a tree. I knew they would most likely still be there by the time evening game drive arrived. Sure enough, they were still sleeping, under the same tree.
Not too long after arriving at the sleepy felines, a roar of a male lion was heard about 1km further down the road close to a waterhole. We made our way in that direction and were the first vehicle to respond. We searched around the waterhole and eventually saw the cat bolt from the bushes. We followed him and found him resting under a relatively thick bush.
The sighting was called in and another vehicle responded. Knowing that the lion came from the waterhole allowed us to be patient as we knew he would most likely head back there for a drink.
In came the other vehicle. Without regard for us and our sighting (which we gladly shared), it came crashing through the bushes. As if the lion was going to bolt again. It was puzzling to see that they were satisfied with the worst sighting of this apex predator. Soon after arriving, they pulled out and disappeared. I wondered why they had come there in the first place. Not even 5 minutes later, the lion started moving. It got up, made its way past our vehicle and headed back in the direction of the waterhole.
We turned around and made our way to the opposite side of the waterhole where we were sure he would arrive shortly.
Our patience had paid off. In stumbled a very thirsty lion as the sun had started to set. Once again we were the only vehicle at the sighting. The light had started to turn a soft, golden hue and the heat of the day started to subside.
This male lion must have been without water for some time as he spent close to 10 minutes just lapping up water and staring our way. The wait was well worth it and I wouldn’t have traded off any other potential sighting for this one.
Staring into the eyes of a lion, even if it is separated by a body of water, is an incredible experience. It just boggles my mind that some would pass up such a great opportunity.