|mother and baby hippos|
Monday, October 3, 2016
I found some great photos taken at the South Luangwa National Park while compiling photos for another post and thought it would be a shame if I didn't share them here. It was my last morning game drive - I was set to leave at noon for the Lower Zambezi NP. Midway through the game drive, we spotted two sub adult lions not far from each other along the Luangwa river. Both lions were a bit odd in their behavior seemingly focused on something at the far bank. Using our binoculars, we scanned across the opposite bank hoping to find a clue to what was bothering them. Nothing. We drove a little more when our guide suddenly stopped and pointed across the river, 'Lions!' He then positioned our 4X4 to face the river. Peering through my binos I saw maybe ten lions feeding with several more lurking close by. In the river, pods of hippos as well as an usually high congregation of crocodiles perhaps alerted by the lions kill. None of us could get a clear look at what the kill was but what was about to happen sure gave us a pretty good idea.
Drama was set to begin. A hippo emerged from the water closely followed by another then another. Soon up to six to seven hippos were out of the water - there was even a baby with its mother among them. This is unusual to say the least. Hippos generally do not leave the water in the day much less emerging in a group with such deliberation and certainly not in the clear presence of lions. They then did the unthinkable - one of the hippos marched up the beach alone heading toward the lions! It stopped and stood roughly ten meters out face to face with the pride. Lions did not flinch. The standoff barely lasted three seconds with the hippo turning around quickly and ran back to safety. Team hippo regrouped by the river and soon they were ready to launched a group confrontation this time. Led by two with another three closely behind, they approached the lions. The lead hippos just merely meters from mortal danger. Again the lions hardly flinched. Both hippos nearest to the lions turned their backs and ran. Deja vu.