Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Zebra Teasing Lions

Etosha National Park in northern Namibia is the countries flagship conservation area. It covers some 23000 km2 and is certainly a proper African Game Park, with many high profile game species represented in the park.

[Image by Vernon | License]

After Christmas, we diceded to take my cousin and her family up to Etosha. They were visiting from Cape Town. Her husband had a double-cab Toyota Hilux with which they had traveled up to Namibia. We bundled her two boys and our two boys in the back, and the eight of us headed up to Etosha for two nights.

Despite being in Etosha while it was raining, we saw a lot. We saw a couple Elephant bulls on the northern side of Fisher's Pan. But we were struggling to find lions. I had almost given up when on our last game drive we got lucky and saw some lions at Klein Namutoni. It was the last waterhole we were going to visit before heading out of the park.

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A large male lay about 150 meters away form the waterhole at a clump of bushes. He had a nice full yellow mane, typical of Etosha Lions. Beside him was another female. It could be that these two lions were busy mating, though we didn't see any actually copulation.

At the waterhole itself lay a younger male, without a mane. He was fairly large and we had initially thought it was an adult female. A little further back lay another adult female out in the open.

While we watched a number of herbivores made their way towards the waterhole. As soon as they would see (or smell) the lions, they would stop some distance off.

A few times while we watched, a group of zebras would loose their nerve and bolt off. It appeared that the lions were hungry, and might start hunting in the night. The animals were more weary than usual.

We watched this scene for a while. There were a number of zebra groups now looking on from each of the regular approaches to the waterhole.

Out of the bushes behind the lions a zebra stallion broke out of the bush and walked towards the waterhole. He saw the lions and stopped for a moment. A few more zebras appeared behind him out of the bush.

To our surprise, instead of backing off like all the other zebra had done, this guy started a prompt walk, going right between the lions!

The lazy lions barely looked up. The zebra stallion walked on until he reached a group of zebras.

As he neared the group of mostly mares they trotted up to him and started rubbing against him.

I've seen similar behavior before. In fact almost any time you find lions near a waterhole in Etosha you'll find one or two zebras or other animals approaching them more than all the others. But this one just seemed to take it a bit far. The lions must have been about 100 meters apart, not far for lions, and this zebra had walked right between them. Also the fact that all the other animals approaching the waterhole held well back made it especially strange.

It was so amazing to watch. They were a bit far off, but I had made sure that my camera was ready, I was thinking 'easy meal' as he walked between them, and we all had a laugh at the reaction of the females. It was a bit too human, to Hollywood, the brave hero has all the chicks hanging from him.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your writings Vern, thank you for sharing...