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Lion Battle at Selous!

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The following story comes from our friends at Sand Rivers Selous in Tanzania. All photos courtesy Mark Sheridan Johnson.

Hearing lions roar early we made our way over to one of the lakes that is fed by the Rufiji river called Lake Segese, The lake is part of the huge Rufiji water system, all the water that flows in the Rufiji falls within the country, a truly Tanzanian river. As we approached Lake Segese the roars of the lions became more frantic, we picked up speed to see if we could catch a glimpse of what was happening.

Bounding along the shores, a lioness jumped straight into lake Segese fully submerged she reappeared bursting out of the water, she carried on this way making her way to the other side of the lake, behind her on the lake shore was another five lions in hot pursuit.

Oblivious to our presence, the lions carried on charging round the lakes edge, eyes fixed on the lioness ahead. At the helm was a fully grown female, followed by four of her offspring, the adult female also jumped into the lake to cut a corner and catch up with the female ahead. We kept up as they ran through a small Doum palm thicket, passing that the female who jumped into the lake was now cornered. Her only option was a fallen tree that was half in the water, out of desperation she took the chance and made her way hastily along the branches to the end and turned around, teeth showing and snarling.

We pulled up and switched the engine off, the noise was incredible all five lions were roaring, the matriarch and a young male decided to follow her up the fallen tree which was over hanging the water, the female at the end was visibly wounded, deep puncture marks were streaming blood. Taking care the lions edged their way toward the end of the tree, the noise was deafening snarls and roaring.

The attackers were unable to get a good enough grip on the log. They retreated back onto the lakes edge, marking their territory and roaring, finding a shady spot the attacking pride lay down keeping their eyes fixed on the lioness in the tree. Sometime passed, the sun was gradually rising and the lioness was in direct sunlight, her wound was still bleeding and she was in an uncomfortable position over water with five lions trying to get her.

Over the next couple of hours the pride of five tried several times to reach her at the end of the tree, each time they failed retreating back to the shade to watch her patiently. We all decided it was time for breakfast now, so we made our way over to lake Tagalala for a lovely bush breakfast.

An hour later we returned to find them all in the same positions.

As we approached the lioness took the opportunity to make a run for it, she nimbly made her way to the shore, then as fast as lightening dashed off towards lake Tagalala, turning around we found the five lions were in hot pursuit again, we tried to keep up! Finally reaching the pride, where they had stopped, we thought she must have escaped, looking up into a large Wing bean tree, there she was, right up near the top. Five lions at the bottom, another standoff! After watching for a while we decided to head back to the camp for lunch; what an exciting morning!

The female must have been caught wandering or hunting in this prides territory, the prides which are controlled by a matriarch often fight each other over territorial boundaries. In the afternoon there was no sign of any of the lions, we believe she eventually escaped her attackers.

Photos courtesy Mark Sheridan Johnson

Categories: camp stories, game report
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