Friday, May 12, 2017

The Least Lucky Warthog in the Mara

Today was a wet, gloomy morning in the Mara Triangle. The tall grass was still damp from the rain last night. The clouds hung heavy overhead. A lonely warthog stood in the sea of tall grass, quietly wandering about and grazing.

There was no wind, so the grass was still. A small patch of yellow grass began to shake and sway, but the warthog paid no mind.

Silently, a lioness crept through the grass with her body lowered. She quietly moved herself closer and closer to the lonely warthog, who happily munched on grass. Two other females were already in position, surrounding their oblivious target.

Three lionesses surround a grazing warthog. After only minutes of stalking the warthog,
two of the lionesses launch the ambush, chasing their prey into the jaws of the third lioness.

Three minutes after the last lioness got into position, she exploded out of the grass, racing towards the warthog. A second lioness joined her and, together, they chased the panicked warthog into the waiting jaws of the third lioness. All three lionesses converged on the warthog, which was still squealing and screaming furiously.

After a few seconds, the damp, heavy air fell silent again. It was a successful hunt.

The lioness who made the kill sports a tell-tale mask of blood.
Photo credit to Robyn L. Strong
 However, the warthog's final squeals had not gone unnoticed. Seconds after the females had completed a successful hunt, a spotted hyena loped onto the scene, followed by a black-backed jackal.

The male of the pride had heard the squeals too. He was not far away, and within a minute he emerged from a nearby patch of forest, racing across the savanna towards the three lionesses.

The male lion bursts out of the forest and races towards the kill.
Photo credit to Robyn L. Strong
The females hardly had a chance to feed on their hard-earned meal before the male bounded up to them.

The male wastes no time, bounding over the tall grass and leaping over the mounds of dirt.
Photo credit to Robyn L. Strong
The male immediately claimed possession of the warthog. The females didn't put up a fight.

The male quickly makes it clear that this warthog is his now.
The females decide to play it safe and let him have it.
Better luck next time, ladies.

The male lion lifted up the entire warthog and carried it away, leaving the hunters to go hungry.

The male carries the carcass away while the
females search for blood and scraps left behind.
The hyena and jackal were left with a tough decision at this point. Do they risk tangling with the male lion, or do they continue circling the females in the hopes that a scrap had been left behind?

The jackal stood up tall to peek over the tall grass, looking back and forth between the hungry lionesses and the big male lion. He was clearly conflicted. After some careful deliberation, he trotted along after the male lion.

The hyena chose to pester the females, hoping that they just might have a bite left over for him. Way to add insult to injury! The lionesses were in no mood to deal with him.

The grass is still wet from the rain last night, and the lioness loses her footing,
sliding across the ground as she tries to chase the hyena. That's embarrassing.

The females finally climbed on top of a mound to recover from the hunt and enjoy one another's company. Affectionately, they rubbed their heads together and licked the warthog's blood from each other's faces. This small taste of blood is all they had to show for their hard work today.

The forlorn hunters take solace in each other's company.
With their teamwork and skill, they won't go hungry for long.

Perhaps this overly-confident hyena should keep his distance from the hungry lionesses,
lest he take the place of the warthog.

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