The Lions and the Crocodile

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As we approached, we could tell that this must the place: the trees were full of buzzards patiently waiting, and  a number of vehicles were parked together on the edge of the dirt road, somewhat off the main drag. We parked among them and looked over toward the trees, hoping to see the lion kill that our safari guide had been told about.  Approximately 50 yards away, a zebra was laying on its side.

Its head moved.  “It’s still alive!”, I cried.  No, the carcass was reacting to being yanked from behind by the huge crocodile, who evidently wanted to drag it to a more secluded spot where he could be more comfortable with his stolen booty.

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However, the zebra was too heavy.  Soon, the crocodile gave up on the idea of moving the carcass and started to eat from the hind quarters near the tail.

Someone saw a lion in the bushes, but she had evidently been chased off her kill by the huge marauding reptile.

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Once the croc had eaten a bit and seemed calmer, the mother lion decided it was safe enough to come out of hiding.  She emerged from the bushes and walked around, keeping her distance.  One of her half grown cubs followed her example.  Finally, the mother came up to the carcass on the side opposite the croc. She opened up the belly of the zebra.  She offered the guts to the braver of her two cubs.

Safari_745After a while, the second cub appeared, and got a turn at the innards of the the zebra.

A group of baboons happened by.  Seeing the lions, a male called out a warning.  Some went up a tree a safe distance away to look at the scene for a while.  They soon moved on.

A pair of tiny antelope, perhaps springboks, came by.  I thought they were foolishly brave, as they hung around for several minutes, not far from the huge predators.  However, they were quite safe: the lions, with the gigantic feast of zebra in front of them, were not really interested in chasing after a little snack.

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At one point, the crocodile seemed to object to sharing, and the mother lion growled threateningly, “There’s plenty for everyone.  Nobody needs to get hurt here.”

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Eventually, the lions had eaten enough for now.  They left the kill and went down to the water’s edge, to refresh themselves, and to clean off their muzzles.

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The setting for this drama, on the banks of a little dammed lake in Kruger National Park, lush with vegetation in the rainy season, looked calm and idyllic.  The zebra carcass was behind the trees to the left, presumably still guarded by the crocodile,

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Many thanks to Mike Potticary, who provided all of the photographs used here.

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