Savute has once again lived up to its reputation as one of Botswana’s top game viewing destinations with a sighting of a lifetime.
Chris Swindal, who spent several nights with us at Savute Safari Lodge, shared his fascinating experience that unfolded during his stay in the Savute region of the Chobe National Park. Thanks to Chris for sharing your memories and stunning images with us.
“On my first night at Savute Safari Lodge, just as we were sitting down for dinner, someone yelled out, “there’s a lion!”. Sure enough, a lioness was walking out of the bushes on the other side of the waterhole that the camp looks over. She walked down to the waterhole for a drink. Then there was a second, then a third. Then it was six…. and finally twelve lions! They all lined up at the waterhole to drink while we watched from the dinner tables!
Later that night, I was woken up (as was the entire camp), but lions roaring and elephants blaring and trumpeting. It lasted for a good thirty minutes before it quietened down. It was clear that at the very least, the lions were chasing elephants in the dry riverbed right next to camp. The next morning at breakfast, everyone was talking about the noises from the previous evening, and guessing at what was happening.
As we left for the morning game drive, we didn’t even make five minutes from camp before we came across the lion pride again. It was the same pride from the previous evening, the Marsh Pride, but now they were joined by two big males. And we suddenly saw what the commotion during the night was about. They had killed one of the elephants. We sat with and watched the pride for the rest of the day as they alternated between feeding on their kill, napping, and interacting with one another. We did the same thing the next day.
We learned that the Marsh Pride had killed this elephant outside of their territory; they were actually in the Northern Pride’s territory now. The lions stayed with their kill until we happened to be buzzed by a helicopter from the Botswana Defense Force, at which point the lion cubs panicked, and made a run back toward their home territory, followed right behind by three of the lionesses.
I also wanted to check on Northern Pride. During my next-to-last day at Savute Safari Lodge, we learned from the other guides and the guys from the Natural History Film Unit, that the Marsh Pride males had attacked the Northern Pride. We were told that there should be 8 cubs in the Northern Pride, but the film crew guys saw one of the Marsh Pride males with a bloody face, and two of the Northern Pride lionesses who should have cubs with them, but there was no sign of the cubs. They were not sure if the bloody face on the Marsh Pride male was from feeding on the elephant, or from having killed the Northern Pride cubs. They also said that later on, they found one of the Northern Pride cubs all by itself wandering around calling to the lionesses, but there were none in sight; the Northern Pride had been scattered by the attack. As the guides were telling the story, the camp staff was aghast and extremely worried about the Northern Pride cubs.”
Story and photos by Chris Swindal.