The Kanana Lions were successful in their hunt for hippo.
Several weeks ago, the guides at Kanana reported a clumsy and rather comical attempt by a male lion to hunt hippo, an event was scrutinized by both guests and the rest of the Kanana pride! The lion was dragged unceremoniously behind the hippo as it ambled slowly back into the lagoon, seemingly unconcerned about the lion latched on to its rear end!
While not unheard of, hunting such large prey is certainly unusual for lions. Predators like any animal, need to ensure that the energy intake from their food source should always be greater than the energy used to obtain it. Subsequently predators tend to target smaller and ‘easier’ prey such as young, sick or older animals. Lions, while being able to identify suitable prey species instinctively, also learn how to hunt by observing the rest of the pride in action. The hunting of larger prey species such as buffalo, hippo and even elephants is fascinating, as it involves the evolution of new specialized hunting techniques.
The Kanana pride are seemingly in the early stages of this evolution, testing out a new prey, in this case hippo. After the initial ‘sparring,’ the pride have now successfully hunted a juvenile hippo, displaying an evolution of their recognition of hippo as prey, and in fine tuning their new hunting strategies. It is likely there will be more drama to come in the following weeks, as prior to the rains water levels in the Okavango Delta are at their lowest and hippo are forced to walk further for good grazing at night. The Kanana pride will continue to develop their tactics, often making mistakes, which could have fatal consequences, but ultimately will evolve into an efficient hippo hunting unit!