Just after we left camp Duncan called on the radio to say he’d heard a lion roaring close to camp. We changed our plans immediately, pulled the vehicle off the road and walked in the direction of where it was coming from. It wasn’t long before it stopped calling, now it was a case of finding either the spoor or the lion itself.
We found his tracks which we dutifully followed round and round in a full circle. He was leading us a merry dance, during which he had doubled back on us actually walking over our tracks. A couple of the guys had a hunch that he’d be at the snared impala that we’d found yesterday so we headed that way. Whilst we didn’t see him this hunch did pay off.
The carcass, intact yesterday, was virtually gone. The stomach had been removed delicately with the precision of a surgeon, the entire body with the exception of forequarters eaten and half the face had been removed in one giant bite. The scene was complete with an eerie impression left in the fine sand, a lions tail. The sand was so fine you could make out the brush marks created by the long tufts at the end of its tail.
As we tried to decide which were the most recent tracks we were rudely interrupted by a breeding herd of elephants. This took us totally off guard so we had to make good of a bad situation. The problem was compounded when one bull elephant came towards us from the east whilst another one put in an appearance from the south. We were busted, caught in the open with no cover and nowhere to go. So we did what had to be done in this situation. Sit ourselves down to wait to see what happened.
The first elephant came to about 20 metres of us, checked us out but thought better of coming any closer. The second was the one that got the pulse racing, he came as close as 10 metres, his trunk all twisted up as he deciphered what he was smelling.
He was up for a game of chase, he started to kick at the floor. This apparently he does to impala and warthog so they take fright at the cloud of dust at which point he would chase them. We didn’t, we sat fast, we weren’t going to play ball.
I did enjoy the experience, it was exhilarating, a big adrenalin rush, but its not something that I’d want to do again in a hurry. During it I was helpless, especially today as I was just a participant on the walk, I was not even walking as “Back-up”. Actually I’m wrong, we all did something, in this case doing nothing was doing something.
Once it was all over and we’d reached safe ground, still peering over our shoulders, we talked excitedly about what had happened. I glanced at my iPhone, I’d caught a little bit of it on video, it was almost six minutes worth. This surprised me, I’d thought this stand off : sit off of hours and been half that at most. For me time must have been standing still whilst I looked into the giants eyes which were white with sleep.