With my Own Eyes

go! - - Contents - WORDS & PIC­TURES JA­NINE MALAN

LION VS JACK­ALS, KGALA­GADI

In Jan­uary this year, my hus­band Fran­cois and I spent a long week­end in the Kgala­gadi Trans­fron­tier Park. We stayed a night at Mata-Mata and set off into the park as soon as the gates opened the next morn­ing. Be­tween Veer­tiende and Der­tiende bore­holes, we spot­ted some­thing in the Auob River. I couldn’t be­lieve my eyes when I re­alised it was a gi­raffe ly­ing down. I hoped it was just rest­ing, but I also knew that gi­raffes rarely lie down flat on the ground as this one was do­ing… As we ap­proached, it be­came clear the gi­raffe was dead. There was one lion on the scene 1 & 2 . We sur­mised that it must have killed the gi­raffe ear­lier that morn­ing. We’ve been go­ing to the Kgala­gadi for 13 years and it was the first time we’d seen a lion on a gi­raffe kill. Of course, where there’s a kill, there are black-backed jack­als. At first there were only two, but more ar­rived in time. The lion had just opened the gi­raffe’s stom­ach and hadn’t eaten much yet. Some­times it dis­ap­peared up to its shoul­ders as it ate from the car­cass 3 . There were two other ve­hi­cles at the scene. The lion lay next to the car­cass for ages – some­times eating and some­times rest­ing in the shade. Even­tu­ally the jack­als worked up enough courage to sneak closer, but the lion quickly chased them off 4 . The lion tried to drag the gi­raffe into the shade 5 , but it was too heavy. It was not im­pressed by the jack­als and it was de­ter­mined not to share its catch with them. The jack­als gave up af­ter the lion chased them one more time. When we left to drive to our next overnight spot, the lion was still ly­ing in the shade, keep­ing an eye on its bounty.

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