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48 hours with Savute’s Mega Pride

Since watching the fascinating documentary “Africa’s Giant Killers” I have wanted to view and spend time with Savute’s Mega Pride.

This incredibly powerful pride consists of 29 individual Lions, ranging from young Cubs to adult Lionesses, from young Males who’s manes are just developing to big black maned Lions.

During this documentary they focus on how this particular Pride have developed the technique and skill set to take down young Elephants during the dry months around the Savute Marsh.  Although this is not something that I would necessarily like to see, just spending time with this pride was a true privilege.

My guests and I arrived at Savute  late in the afternoon after quite a lengthy drive from the Khwai concession.  A few guests decided to stay in Camp and just soak up the experience, but for one guest and myself the excitement of what could be at the waterhole was just too much to resist and we decided to head to a close by waterhole known as Rhino Vlei to see what we could find.

Our decision to head out could not have been more rewarding as we found a Pride of 6 Lions making their way to the waterhole to quench their thirst after a hot October’s afternoon.

The next morning, eager to get back to Rhino Vlei we left Camp just before first light to take full advantage of the cooler conditions and the spectacular golden light.  The surprise we got was better than any of us could possibly have hoped for!  Right in front of us were 29 Lions, the well known Mega Pride of Savute!!  We are all overjoyed by seeing these Lions and super eager to spend some time with them we settled in for the morning and spent a good few hours with them before the October heat became too much for them as they seeked some shelter under a few Camelthorn trees only a few metres from Rhino Vlei.

It wasn’t the toughest decision in the world to know where to go for the afternoon, and we positioned ourselves right next to Rhino Vlei (in the shade of course) and decided that we will wait for the Lions to make their way to the waterhole a little later that afternoon.

Our planning could not have been better as the entire Pride made their way to the water, led by the easy recognisable one eyed Female.  The afternoon was simply breathtaking!  There was no wind to speak of whatsoever so the reflections in the water as they were drinking were incredible.

As always in the Savute region during the dry months, herds of Elephants are never to far away and it was only a matter of time before a herd would make its way to the water.  Naturally this sparked some interest by some of the Pride members who, apparently only 2 days earlier had taken down a Buffalo.  As the Elephants moved closer to the waterhole, one particular Elephant found himself a bit isolated and was eventually circled by 4 of 5 Lions.  The unmistakable trumpet thought was enough to alert other herd members who quickly turned around as they chased away the majority of the Pride shortly before sunset.

Nothing much really happens around the Savute area away from the waterholes during these hot days so the next morning it was back to Rhino Vlei to see what had happened during the night.  The Pride once again spent the majority of their morning around the waterhole with the little cubs ensuring endless entertainment for us as they explored their surroundings.  Once again, as the October heat became too much, the Pride moved towards some shade to conserve energy and to stay as cool as they possibly could.

I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of wildlife that came down to the waterhole, almost like clockwork, from Impala’s to Kudu’s, hundreds of Elephants and Warthogs, Helmeted Guineafowls and even Black Backed Jackals.

It truly was an absolute privilege to spend so much time with this incredible Pride, something I will cherish for a long time to come!

Johan

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