This is the amazing moment a pride of lions was seen “practicing” their hunting skills on a young buffalo. The older lionesses showed the cubs the ropes, keeping the young buffalo calf alive throughout the more than hour-long practice session.
30-year-old professional field guide, Christof Schoeman, caught the action on film in the Manyeleti Game Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park at Tintswalo Safari Lodge.
“It’s always a dramatic occasion when you stumble across predators doing what they do best,” said Schoeman. “It was such a privilege to watch a sighting like this unfold, but some might not be able to stomach it. It’s not for the faint-hearted.”
The lions in the video are from the Nharhu pride, which consists of three lionesses and 10 six-month olf cubs. Schoeman had been on the lookout for the pride when they spotted a dust cloud in the area, signaling a likely faceoff between the lionesses and a herd of buffalo.
Schoeman described the scene:
“We settled into the sighting waiting for the action to start from an elevated position in the distance. It wasn’t long and the herd of buffalo rumbled off into the closest thicket. We waited for the dust to settle to see if the lionesses managed to bring one down. As the air cleared, we noticed that the lionesses had indeed captured a buffalo, but a very young one, anything between 8-10 months old. We also noticed that the big cats were simply holding onto the buffalo and not killing it. One of the lionesses then moved off towards the dam wall where the cubs were tucked away.”
“With contact calls from the mother, the cubs appeared from the other side of the dam wall. She led them towards the buffalo and that’s when the real action started to happen. It was heartbreaking for the young buffalo, but quite comical to watch the young lions learn the art of killing. Every now and then, one of the mothers would perform a maneuver where they use their deadly claws to grab hold of the hind neck and wrap those massive jaws around the buffalo’s throat, then let go. This was simply to show and teach the cubs, for them to be able to mimic the same behavior. This went on until sunset and just before darkness set in. Miraculously they kept the buffalo alive for about an hour when we left, so we weren’t sure how long the ‘school of the hunt was on for.”
While it may seem cruel, scenes like this are simply part of nature. In fact, it’s something the guides at the reserve witness quite often, given the large numbers of lions and buffalo in the area.
“I felt sorry for the prey, but I knew how crucial it is for the predators to get protein and gain energy in order to survive the harsh elements of an open ecosystem,” said Schoeman. “I also teach my guests this, so that they could have a better understanding of what they are witnessing and why it’s so important.”