We Follow a Male Lion Fitted with Radio Collar for About 3 kms Down the H7 Towards Nsemani Dam
In July we did the sunset drive at Satara. We always do at least one late drive on the Kruger's own vehicles when we visit the Park which meant we left Satara Camp at 16.30 and got back to camp about 20.00.
Be aware that late drives in open vehicles are cold affairs. You're provided with a blanket on the vehicle but it's still best to come in winter woollies and some more too.
The drive was a little uneventful until we'd almost completed the Girvana Loop back onto the H7 to return to Satara. The first sighting was a Leopard that we inadvertently disturbed as it was stalking a group of Impala on the right hand side of the S40. The leopard doubled back across the road right in front of us and we could follow, in the spotlight, its attempt to do a semi-circular detour behind us to get back in touch with the Impala herd.
This Lion is Fitted with Radio Collar. Part of Bovine TB Research Project
We were driving east and this shape appeared in the distance. It soon became obvious that it was a male lion walking west down the main tar road ... the H7. We passed with the Lion on the left (my side) and I got a great shot. After the passing we drove about 500 metres up the road and then turned the vehicle around and approached the lion from behind ... He could not have cared less, hardly even looking at what the obvious intrusion was. That's what you can do when you're King of the Jungle.
We followed at no more than 5 metres behind the lion for quite a distance before we turned around. The Lion was probably about 1 km, at this stage, from the Nsemani Dam where soon no doubt there was going to be quite a commotion especially from the alert baboons that are in that area.
The reason for the radio collar was that this particular lion was being used for research into the Buffalo eating habits of lions in the area. Buffalo are carriers of Bovine TB disease and this is passed onto some lions through the habit of eating the contaminated meat.
There is an extremely interesting article to be read here on this subject involving Lions from the south of the Kruger (more infected) and Lions from the north (less infected). One of the interesting observations is that male Lions seem to be more a risk and the reason is that the males are first into the kill and eat the choicest parts ... the lungs. Of course the lungs are the centre of TB infections in the host Buffalo.
We said goodnight to 2 young spotted Hyaena's just as we approached the left turn into the Satara Camp approach drive ... one had a piece of meat hanging from its jaws.
The night drive people were waiting to get on the vehicle to see who knows what ... but for sure, they were going to get cold.