Serengeti Safari Lion Buffalo Feast – Safari in Africa Day 2
Serengeti Safari Lion Buffalo Feast – Day 2.
We were up at 05:20 to start our day with a fantastic sunrise. The Serengeti is so alive. Within five minutes of us parking to watch the sun bring in the day, a jackal came walking past our Land Cruiser. Five minutes after that, a hyena came walking along right next to our vehicle.
Serenget is the Maasai word for ‘land of endless plain’. The flat goes as far as the eye can see (30,000 km2), where the wildest of wildlife live among 3,200 Maasai people and their livestock.
Animals and human living together…
Somehow coping with each other…
And then the peace of the sunrise was disrupted by a Jackal and a Hyena.
After our encounter with the Jackal and Hyena, to our sheer amazement, we witnessed the reality of nature on the Serengeti Safari. We arrived close to the scene of a buffalo that had been killed sometime in the night. Two lionesses were eating on it together while two males lay in the grass close by. The females had made the kill, but the males got to eat first until they had their fill as they truly are the kings of the land. Lions eat approximately once a week and it is estimated that they consume 35 kg of meat at a time. After the males had filled up on buffalo, the lionesses were then allowed their share.
In the distance, hyenas and jackals waited their turn for scavenger scraps while vultures began flying over the carcasses. One of the males lions went for water along with one of the females, leaving one female to eat the carcass by herself. A hyena close by let out a call, and 15 hyena heads rose above the grass keeping their distance from the lioness as she ate. The trees closest to the scene were filled with vultures in wait…
Close by, the remaining male lion was lying on his back in the grass with his feet in the air, just like a house-cat. When the second female finished eating, she began to head for the stream where the other two had moved on for water. The jackals were closest to the carcass as the lions are not as territorial with them as with the hyenas. Aloyse, our guide compared it with, “It is like an adult letting a five-year-old kid stay around.” When they were sure the lioness was safely far enough away, the jackals went in for morsels of the kill. The hyenas were moving quickly, but they were very cautious, looking closely at the surroundings as the pack moved towards the carcass. All species were moving in at once. Twenty-four hyenas were on the carcass and battling for some of the feast.
Within about 10 minutes, so many hungry hyena mouths had bared a lot of the buffalo’s bones and the rib cage became apparent. Vultures were also battling to gain position among the jackals and hyenas. The hyenas were laughing and jostling for space. One of them got the tail of the buffalo and went running off with it. At that time, the male lion who had been lying in the sun decided that he was ready for seconds and got up to make his way back to the carcass. That really messed everything up, because 24 hyenas, many vultures, and few jackals were extremely disappointed at this turn of events. All of the other species reluctantly scattered at the last possible moment to give the lion room. Away from the carcass, the angry hyenas began to fight among each other in frustration. The male lion was alone with the buffalo.
It was clear that the lion just wanted to be the boss, and it is debatable if he was even still hungry. He was showing his power and just looking around at all of the other animals as he stood beside the carcass. Only Maribu birds were allowed to stay close to the lion and its buffalo carcass. Eventually, the big male lion decided that maybe he would have another small snack of buffalo. While he was eating, we could hear him cracking and crushing the buffalo bones that he was breaking off and chewing through. The lion was so calm and comfortable, laying down to eat as a typical feline does, so careless about what was going on around him. In the distance, we could hear hippopotamuses groaning as they bathed in a pool of water.
The lion had his fill again and decided to walk off. As he did all of the other species moved back in to the kill and started taking portions of the meat. After about a minute, the lion once again had a change of heart and decided that he still had space to pack in a little more buffalo. He began moving back towards the carcass. The hyenas, so ugly that I am surprised that they will even mate with each other, dispersed some but were giving the lion much less respect. Then, as the lion got close to the dead buffalo, something spooked him and he started to walk off again. The hyenas, who had run out of patience, began a rally. One leader began calling out to the others who began to pack up with the apparent intention to run the lion off. The lion started trotting away and as he did, six hyenas went chasing after him to scare him away for good. Once more the other animals had the kill to themselves. They ate ferociously, making all kinds of ruckus in their buffalo eating.
However, that easy meal would only last ten minutes for the hyenas and other scavengers.
The lion returned to the buffalo from the other direction and scared all other species off again.
The hyenas, with a taste for the meat and tired of his daunting, formed a circle around the lion. They got close enough that eventually the lion felt surrounded and uncomfortable. He stood up to eat rather than lying down as he had done earlier. When a few hyenas got close enough, the lion turned around and gave them a full-stomached, careless, lazy chase. The other hyenas and jackals tried to sneak in for a bite of buffalo with the lion a few paces away. All of the angry hyenas made noise together, hoping to scare or intimidate the lion, but it was a futile effort. The lion went back to his meal, stopped at one point to raise his head at the hyenas to give all of them a look, and once again enjoyed his feast.
For a while, the hyenas were persistent in their hopes to try to frighten the lion. When he did not like their attempts anymore, he would give a small chase. Eventually the hyenas realized their effort was ineffective and they finally retired to the sidelines to wait him out. At this point, two full hours had passed since we had first arrived on the scene. When the lion finally felt completely sure he was full, he walked off and the hyenas, jackals, and vultures came in to finish up what was left. Nature is incredible. It is just like what is seen on television.
What an amazing display of what happens here in the Serengeti…
Here are portions of the lion/hyena/buffalo fiasco…
Beyond lucking out on the lion/hyena natural order of feeding, we were lucky enough to get to see a leopard sleeping in a tree. They are the most elusive of the ‘Big Five.’
We also witnessed some unlikely friends, such as the baboons and impalas hanging out and eating together among some bushes.
Zebras can be seen in every direction of the flats, as far as your eyes can see. The wildebeest, with 800,000 calves born every spring, remind me of Indigenous peoples of North America. Perhaps it is their straight black manes and tails? The wildebeest just look so native to the land and it is apparent that they belong there.
Later as we were driving, there were two massive and lazy lions sleeping on the side of the road, trying to hide from the heat of the Serengeti sun.
There were local Tanzanian guards walking among us with shotguns slung over their shoulders that made me feel uncomfortable. About 25 minutes after taking notice of the guards, an elephant came walking right through the camp. The guards suddenly made sense then. It is said that they only shoot their guns into the air when they need to use them… I hope so…
* For Day 1 and Day 3: