Watching the king of the jungle in its natural habitat certainly stirs up a great deal of emotions. Watching a lion view the real king of the jungle stirs up a different set of emotions entirely.
It has been an age since the Othawa breakaway lioness has been walking circles around her original pride. The big question is why has she not joined up with her pride yet? As a youngster she had fled from the pride together with her male siblings. The arrival of new dominant males in the area meant imminent danger for the inexperienced band of four. After circling the Kruger National Park for a year or two, the lioness returned.
Of the few instances that I get to spend with her, I seem to find her resting upon higher ground. Often she will be resting upon a termite mound. Sometimes I find her lounging on a dam wall warming up in the sun. Being a single lioness, this gives her a great vantage point to look out for other predators and possibly an easy meal. She has been extremely successful in feeding herself and keeping out of harm’s way.
There have been recent reports of the young lioness trying to approach the pride. Has she been hesitating fearing rejection from the Tumbela males? Perhaps she is not sure how the older Othawa females will tolerate her with the six juveniles around? I do hope for her sake that she takes the leap and manages to reunite with her family. This will not only keep her safe, but greatly add to the long term sustainability of the pride.
One of my recent views of this individual was finding her resting on the wall of a small watering hole. She simply lounged about, minding her own business. During the stillness of the afternoon something caught my eye. I was quite surprised that the lioness had not picked it up yet. A large elephant bull entered the scene.
What was most interesting to me was watching how long it would take for her to realise an elephant was approaching from her rear. Finally she caught the scent or heard a noise as all her senses moved towards the elephant’s direction. She sat quietly and did not seem to flinch. She simply sized up the bull and calculated his movements. The elephant also did not seem to notice the lioness nearby. It was obvious that the elephant simply came in for a late afternoon drink.
Watching both animals merely enjoying the waterhole was rewarding. The elephant slowly moved around the waterhole, testing which side it preferred drinking from. The lioness performed a series of yawns and stretches. This movement eventually gave away her position and the elephant finally realised she was there. The elephant gave a sudden head shake and puffed himself up. The Othawa breakaway female casually got up and moved from her position, not threatening the bull in any manner.
The elephant seemed to accept her exit. He quenched his thirst and also decided to leave the scene.