Caught between a lion and an elephant bull in musth

We came across the EcoTraining camp in Selati to camp-sit for a couple of days over New Year. We went out for a short drive on the first afternoon to orientate ourselves on the reserve. It was extremely hot so I, the Aussie corporate girl, who is used to perfectly chilled office environments, was really looking forward to some bush air-conditioning!  We got more than air-conditioning when it started raining a few minutes after we set out but we weren’t deterred.

That decision proved lucky when we came across a lovely clearing with four gorgeous sable bulls sleeping after the showers passed. It was so exciting to see these amazing and rare antelope. Particularly as the sun had come out, right on cue.

Our next lovely sighting was a large breeding herd of elephants which we stumbled upon as they were heading to a dam to drink and bathe. With lightning in the background and a couple of tiny calves playing, this was a very special sighting. We stayed until the last elephant had left the dam. (Side note: Van took an awesome video of this but due to some unforeseen technical incompetence from myself, all videos from the day were deleted. I have already cried about it so please no comments as I’m trying to move on.)

As we were leaving we heard a lion roaring so we set off in that general direction (trying at all times to figure out where we were on the map!). As we were about to head home we decided to make a quick detour past a nearby dam. What an awesome decision that was (by me, though Van disputes it) as we turned a corner to hear an impala urgently alarm calling, and what do you know… a big male lion lying right in the open! At the same time, I spotted elephants on the opposite side of the road and out comes a big bull elephant very clearly in musth (excitable and aggressive!).

We kept a keen eye on the bull but he was a lot more interested in the little elephant herd (or more accurately one of the elephant cows) so we were free to focus on our male lion – who very nicely gave us awesome roaring displays (both caught on video that has since been incompetently deleted!).

After a while, the ellies disappeared and we decided to hang out with the lion for a while in case he did something interesting. He didn’t really but all of a sudden after a while the big elephant bull came charging at us from out of the bushes! Van tried to calm him down but very quickly decided it was time to leave as this bull was coming for us! EXIT STAGE LEFT. The issue was the lion also decided a big raging male elephant bull was enough of a reason to move along and so he set out on the road in front of us.   So here we were driving along in the dark AND the rain with a male lion lazily strolling along in front of us scent-marking every damn bush he came across while an angry horny elephant bull was hunting us down from the rear. Luckily the elephant seemed to lose interest so we could then enjoy Mr Lion, as much as one can enjoy watching a lion’s rear-end as he ambles along in the drizzle and dark. Which, by the way, is probably not quite as much as you would enjoy it on a pleasant day. However, I don’t feel it’s ever appropriate to complain about having a lion right in front of your car.

Luckily Van’s excellent sense of direction got us back home albeit definitely via a ‘scenic’ route and absolutely soaking wet!

Our first drive in Selati was definitely a memorable one. I wonder what we’ll see tomorrow!

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Picture of Annemi Zaaiman

Annemi Zaaiman

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