- Wow! - Lucie et Philippe
- Loved it xD - Nebυlą ♥
- I love how it is darkened and you can still see grass pieces!! - tristin.nitsirt
- absolutely incredible. - zcrew
- fantastic light! - Victoria Carrizo
- Cool yellow eyes! - Rosie @}-'--
- I felt scared the first time I saw it. Its like he is ready to attack.
BRAVO !!! - gsbhatthal
The Ghost in the Darkness..
We had met the (nowadays) Mlowathi Male Lions during our previous visits to Mala Mala. They used to be called 'The Mapochos' (the Devils) as they formed a brotherhood of 5 big adult Males and as such were sheer invincible. They were seen bringing down huge prey such as rhino. On numerous occasions they have killed other lions; both male as female as well as many cubs. They have no fear .. and it shows.
This year's visit, 2 encounters with 2 of the brothers had a huge impact on me;
The first encounter was with both Males. It was already pitch dark and apparently the smell of a willing lioness was in the air. They were sizing each other up in order to determine who would be the lionesses’ date. There was restlessness and aggression in the air. At one moment we found ourselves situated between the two impressive males. One started roaring. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a Lion’s roar up close but I can tell you it is heart stopping; especially from 3 meters away. Your whole body vibrates with those deep thunderous tones. Then the other male answered the call with his own roar. Those haunting roars, coming from both sides, as close as that, is a sound I’ll never forget.. (picture above is one of the brothers on that particular night).
On the second occasion, a couple of days later, ranger Dean and I had gone out during the heat of the day to try and photograph Giant Kingfishers. When after 5 minutes we stumbled upon a big herd of elephants playing and frolicking in the Sand River, the Kingfishers were forgotten :-)
After a while a message came in through the radio; The ‘Mohawk”
Mlowathi Male was seen at the airstrip in the company of an Eyrefield
Pride Lioness.. So we went to have a look.
We found them in thick bush heading towards the river. The other brother had clearly been defeated in the fight over the favours of the female and waited a bit further away. The 2 lovers went off together and we followed them as best as we could until they stopped on the sloping riverbed. Dean parked the big Landrover in front of them and we waited..
All of a sudden the 2 big lions stood up to have a drink in the puddle right next to the landrover. Nothing out of the ordinary in Mala Mala until the huge Mapocho suddenly turned and stepped towards the (entirely open – not even a door) Landrover until he almost touched Dean’s foot, constantly staring at us with those huge yellow eyes. His whole body all muscle and clearly aggressively demanding privacy. And the stare lasted.. and lasted… And you know, so well, it would only take one lash with that giant paw…
I can’t even begin to describe what goes through you in such a moment.
Pure fear is probably the closest. Dean explained later that he didn’t
want to start the engine as the sound might have startled the Lion,
which would have made it even more dangerous. Also he wanted to stand
ground as he didn't want to teach the Lion that cars were 'to be
intimidated'. Later on he said bravely that he was only waiting for
the clicking of my camera to save the moment for eternity. Yeah
right.. I’m quite sure that he also had nothing else in his mind than
survival.. (I was so completely scared stiff that I totally forgot to
press that shutter!).
The Status Quo lasted and lasted and someone had to do something to clear the tension.. In the end Dean did start the engine and we backed off a little which made the Mapocho turn and join his lady… Guess he won the staring contest...