Usually I only post personal sightings and photos. However, my husband had a remarkable, yet difficult, sighting the other day and I wanted to share the story with you all…
A while ago now, when the large pack of Wild Dogs was still denning, a pride of lions was found in the near vicinity of the den site. Evidence around the den showed that the lions had actively tried to get into the den to get at the pups. It is believed that predators will try and kill each other to get rid of competition or with younger lions it is just a case of chasing and catching. Just like a domestic cat at home.
There were no adults around the den, they might have fled or were out hunting. Normally the pack would leave babysitters behind to take care of the pups, the arrival of the lions might have chased these baby-sitters off leaving the pups to shelter deep inside their den.
These den sites are usually old Aardvark holes and as new species (warthog, hyena, honey badger and so on) take over these holes they modify them to their needs. So the pups would have been remodeling down there creating small passages and holes they can hide in. These clearly worked as the lions eventually left and went to sleep about 150 meters from the den.
After me and my guests visited the sleeping cats we went past the den site, just to show how close the lions were. When we got there the wild dog pups had gotten over their fear and just came out of the den, and as youngsters do they started playing right away. With all the noises that go with that we were getting worried that the lions might hear them and come over to investigate. Then something unexpected happened, one of the pups got the smell of the lions and started following the scent. The rest of the group of eight followed and so did we. They went right up to the path the lions followed into the bush and kept following. At this point I asked all the vehicles in the area to stop their engines and keep quiet, we did not want our presence to influence what might happen. Unfortunately the pups never realized that the smell they followed was leading them to danger, nor did the lions make a noise that scared the pups off. We did not see the confrontation but heard it from about 50 meters and it did not sound good. We could hear the screaming of pups and the growling of the lions. Then two of the pups ran past our vehicle towards the den site, another guide in the area spotted four other pups running in another direction. When the dust settled we went forward to see what had happened.
We found the lions. Unfortunately they were standing over two of the pups. So two of the pups were definitely dead and the other six managed to escape the lions but were not out of danger yet as the only safe place would have been going into the den.
It was only the next morning that we found the adults with four of the pups as they arrived at the den site. For nearly ten minutes they were vocalizing and pawing at the edges of the den until finally the last two pups came out.
So in the end the lion’s visit cost the lives of two of the pups, but the rest of them learned a valuable lesson. They will now fear lions and will stay away from them thus allowing for a better chance of their and heir potential offspring’s survival.