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Clash of the Crater Titans



Few experiences in the natural world can match daybreak in the Ngorongoro Crater for the sheer majesty of the setting and the unimaginable concentration of wildlife. As the day progresses, the Crater fills with vehicles and loses some of its Eden-like purity, but the early hours are a period to be savored. As Pierre can attest from his recent visit, it's also when wildlife is on the move, and the action comes thick and fast: 



"My guide, Fadhili, and I had just reached the Crater floor when we spotted a group of 12 lions (females and young males) moving with purpose along the western shore of Lake Magadi. Presently they happened upon an old buffalo bull, alone in a shallow pond. Without any discernible signal, they deployed along the banks of the pond and a young male moved in to flush the buffalo out." 



"At this point chaos broke loose as the lions tried to encircle the buffalo and get onto his back. A lioness almost succeeded, but paid a very high price - as she was riding the buffalo's flanks, trying to get a purchase to leap atop him, he belted her with a kick that would have instantly killed a lesser creature. The force lifted her (all 270lbs of brawn) several feel into the air and, as she hit the ground, the buffalo turned to gore her, but the rest of the pride came to her rescue and chased him off."



"The pride then chased the buffalo, herding him directly towards our safari vehicle. He stopped inches from us in a storm of dust and stones, splattering the vehicle with mud and saliva, and turned to face his tormentors. Quick-thinking Fadhili swiftly started the Landcruiser and moved it out of the way, lest we become entangled in this deadly encounter."




"After a  few more failed attempts to corner and cripple the buffalo, the lions gave the old bull just enough breathing space that he was able to make it back to his watery redoubt. They kept guard around the pond for a few minutes, then one-by-one started to lose interest and drift off. Eventually the old bull gave a defiant snort and charged off across the plains to find temporary shelter amidst a large herd of zebra."




"My hands were shaking from the excitement of what had just transpired, but I could only imagine the adrenalin levels of the combatants. Happily, everyone lived to fight another day with, I would imagine, some important lessons learned on all sides - at least two of them were extremely lucky to still be alive!"



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