The African bush never ceases to amaze even the most seasoned traveller or guide. At any moment a seemingly relaxed sighting can instantly become dramatic and an often unique scene. On an evening game drive within the Kanana concession part of the Okavango Delta, guides spotted a pride of lions lazing away the last vestiges of the day's heat. As it was still warm and the lions clearly not feeling energetic, the guides and their guests settled down also to observe the pride, wait on some movement and the possibility of stunning photographs in the evening light. However, the wait was not long, as after only several minutes a large male lion appeared from the distant tree line, making his way leisurely towards the rest of the pride.
The male's arrival seemingly galvanised the pride into some sort of action and, after the necessary greetings among the members of the pride, they all began to amble towards the nearby waterhole for a cooling drink. As the vehicle followed the Kanana lions towards the water, the guide noticed a mature hippo directly in line with the advancing pride, grazing on the lush growth surrounding the water's edge.
While it is not unheard of for lion to hunt hippo, (some prides in Botswana have adapted to specialise in hunting them and this requires the cooperation of the entire pride) their huge size and power make them an unusual and potentially very dangerous animal to target. African predators are however nothing if not opportunists, and the male lion quickly began assessing the hippo as potential prey and lowered himself into the grass. As the male started stalking the hippo, the remaining members of the pride sat down and watched. Inching his way into position the lion burst into a sprint and leapt onto the back of the hippo digging his front claws deep into the rear of the hippo.
At this stage the hunt began to go awry. Without any support from the rest of the Kanana pride, the hippo then proceeded to trot towards the water, dragging the lion behind it. The lion was left desperately clinging on with his front claws while his legs dragged along in the dirt! As the hippo entered the water, the lion decided on a retreat and released his hold. However the other hippo in the waterhole, having seen the attack, rapidly advanced on the now bedraggled lion and forced him into a most undignified sprint back to the pride!
During the entire event the remaining members of the pride had not moved an inch, clearly not impresses with the hunt on view or even the potential prey. The Kanana pride has much to learn if they wish to consider hunting such a large animal again !