Gruelling 90 minute battle

- A story by Ranger James Moodie

After yesterday and last night's rain, the animals seemed to be rather scarce during the morning drive on 17th January. For the first few hours of the morning drive, apart from the odd sleeping lions or the scattered herds of elephant calling around the corners of the Northern territories, very little was called in on the radio. Just as it was about time to start returning back to camp for some much needed coffee and breakfast, some rangers called in what heard like a buffalo in distress just south of the Main Camp. Quickly the rangers responded and shot out to investigate, and what they saw was nothing short of amazing.

Five members of the Marthly Pride had singled out a fully grown buffalo bull on the Eastern Bank of the Sand River, and by the time the rangers had arrived, there was already chaos happening between the bovine and large cats. At least four of the pride members were playing a game of rodeo while the other young male was attempting to get at the nose or neck, which ultimately turned into a nightmare for him. The pride had gained control from the rear, while the young male in front was not quick enough to get away from the sharp horns, getting impaled through his right shoulder. Being as powerful as he was, the buffalo lifted the lion clean off the ground, the young boy's arm flailing wildly in the air as the buffalo struggled to get away from the other pride members. What can only be described as harrowing, the poor young lion growled in pain everytime the buffalo swung its head around, and it was for roughly 15 minutes that he was tossed around as a rag doll. Eventually the young male saw a gap and managed to free himself, immediately hitailing it away from the action, limping as he went. Needless to say he stayed very far from the area, and lay down to lick his wounds.

The rest of the pride however, didn't abandon their posts and continued to struggle as the buffalo slowly lost power. After an hour and a half, the buffalo finally rolled onto its side, allowing a free gap for the tailless lioness with all her experience to jump around to the front and grab the animal by its nose to begin the suffocation. Eventually the buffalo took its final breath and the lions began their feasting, with the injured male watching from his shady spot, feeling very sorry for himself. All of the bellows and growls from the action attracted the attention of a young leopardess, the Daughter of the Kikilezi Female 3:3 who watched from 200m away until she lost interest and left the area in search of her own food.

It was a spectacular sighting for all who witnessed, and although injured quite severly, we hope the young male makes a full recovery. To view all of the action taken of this battle, click here.

Buffalo: At the mercy of lions, drought and disease

- A blog story by Ranger Pieter van Wyk
Buffaloes at MalaMala are going through a tough time. Anyone who has been following our daily updates on Instagram and Facebook over the past months may have noticed this. Lions have been killing these bovines at a higher than normal rate and for a of couple weeks, almost on a daily basis. In fact, quite often we’ve witnessed multiple kills in a day. The first two questions this raises are why is there suddenly an increase in kills, and why now? The next question is what are the possible consequences? Read more
MalaMala Facebook & Instagram highlights of the month
23 January: Lions: The five members of the Marthly pride were seen once again, all of which were successful in capturing a fully grown kudu bull around lunch time. This was not the only kill seen today, as one of the lionesses from the Eyrefield pride managed to take down a buffalo cow on her own this morning, helped only a bit later with the final blows by a second lioness. As the buffalo herd fled for safety, the two Matshapiri males took advantage of the pandemonium and captured a buffalo calf. Over the course of the day, all thee Eyrefield lionesses were seen, as well as their two cubs. Over and above these lions, three more young males were seen in the south of the property. Leopards: the West Street male was seen again today, with the remains of a bushbuck kill, the Tamboti female witnessed capturing a juvenile warthog and the Treehouse male spent a majority of his day close to the buffalo kill with the Eyrefield pride – he got chased off as soon as he was spotted, however. Two male cheetah were seen in the north eastern parts of the property, both of which were well fed, and three Sable bulls encountered along the Sand river. In addition to these amazing sightings, numerous herds of elephant and buffalo were spotted too. What a day! 
17 January: Buffalo just can’t catch a break. We witnessed 3 lion vs buffalo kills as well a male leopard running in several times on a herd. Lions: 5 members of the Marthly pride battled for over 90minutes to bring down a large buffalo bull. It came at a cost though as one of the young males got gored. 2 Styx lionesses were in the north. The Eyrefield pride and 2 Matshapiri males caught a young buffalo this morning in front of Rattray’s Camp- then later in the day another herd came to drink- the male with the mohawk ran in again and caught a calf. Leopards: the Bicycle Crossing male provided us with a very special sighting as he made several attempts at catching buffalo calves. The Treehouse male watched the lions kill the first young buffalo in front of Rattray’s Camp before moving west. The DOKF 3:3 was also seen. Many elephants were viewed as well. 
Ranger photographs of the month
MalaMala Game Reserve
Telephone: +27 – 11 – 442 2267