9/28/09: Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
We have no pictures documenting this incident. We have no film. All you have to go on is our word.
We were rushing to see the lions shortly after their zebra kill, as alluded to in Zhou’s post yesterday. One of the buses in our group was just leaving, and the rumor was there were three female lions gathered around a fresh zebra carcass. In fact, that bus was there to see the lions drag it into the bushes, so it couldn’t have been more than five or ten minutes after the kill.
When we showed up, the last lion was just finishing its meal and walking away. But the remains remained.
We drove a short ways across the field to find the lion that had made the kill lying under a tree, huffing and puffing like it had just blown your house down.
There was also a young male lion nearby, drinking water from a stream. In lion culture supposedly the females do all the hunting and the males do nothing, so I can only assume the male was merely thirsty from eating.
This is where things got interesting.
The male suddenly decided his drink was over. He darted past our truck, catching the attention of the female, who got up from her rest to follow.
They trotted through the fields, gradually getting closer to… another dazzle of zebras! Unfortunately, they were a bit out of camera range, but we saw both lions crouch in the long grass once they were sufficiently close to a straggler. We sat in awe of what we assumed was about to happen. After a few seconds, the chase was on! The lions sprung into action, rushing after the lone zebra! Just as they did, the zebra saw his attackers and sprinted away. The lions were gaining quickly…
It is here that I’d like to say either:
(a) … and just as quickly as the chase began, it ended in a takedown Lawrence Taylor would be proud of. The lions pounced, and all of a sudden the zebra disappeared in the grass. We slammed the car into gear and watched lions from all around join the feast.
Or (b) … and the zebra realized there’s no way he could outrun the massive beasts. With the courage of that drunk guy at the end of Independence Day, he turned around and squared off with his predators. A quick left, a quick right, and both the lions were down. They both whimpered back to their den, vowing never to harm another zebra.
Unfortunately though, as quickly as the lions were gaining ground, the zebra hit top speed and began pulling away. Within seconds, the lions decided that it was too hot, they were too full, and the chase was no longer worth pursuing. We watched the animals stare each other down for a while, then gave up on the kill and left.
Despite the less-than-exciting ending, this still goes down in my top five witnessed chases, a couple spots ahead of OJ Simpson’s white bronco, but still behind Michael Phelps chasing down that Cavic guy in the Olympics.
[Side note: I think I’m ending this with a top five list summary due to the book I just finished (yes you read that right, I finished a book!): High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (author of About a Boy). I highly recommend it.]
Picture of the Day: The other half apparently flies a private jet directly into the Masai Mara then stays in the $440/night hotel rooms no bigger than a college dorm room.