I might be biased but lions are boring. Much like their name suggests all they seemed to be doing when I found them was lying down. I never understood why so many people were obsessed with crowding round them watching a bunch of oversized cats sleeping, especially when there were leopards around.
My leopard bias had meant I’d hardly seen anything of the lions, in fact they were a blessing in disguise. When there were lions around it wasn't uncommon for me to have the leopards to myself and as you may have noticed, I like leopards a lot.
One morning I was walking up to the lodge before sunrise when I spotted the lions actually right outside the lodge and they weren’t lying down, shocking! Grabbing some food I headed out in the direction they were heading and found them a bit further along the main lagoon. My excitement was short-lived when almost as soon as the sun had risen the lions decided they'd exerted themselves a little too much on their pre-dawn stroll and went to lie down. How surprising.
Abandoning the lions in search of leopards, I thought that'd be it. The afternoon came and the lions were still near the lodge so I gave them a second chance but no they were sleeping still, of course. Even the local impala and puku population had seen these dozy felines didn’t warrant much need for panic and were happily grazing nearby.
As I was about to head off leaving the lazy cats to it there was a baboon bark. Weird, not a single lion had stirred and surely the baboons had already seen them, they'd been sleeping in the same spot for 8 hours after all. Then it came to me, in this particular lagoon I’d repeatedly seen a female leopard who had a young cub too. She was pretty useless, a great hunter but lost her kills to hyenas repeatedly, clearly not grasping the idea of moving kills up to the safety of trees. She’d lost 5 kills in as many days the previous week. As well as losing kills she was also incredibly shy, like a leopard should be. It was only Alice and her offspring who were bucking the usual leopard behaviour trends but she did hunt in daylight like them.
As the baboon’s barking got more urgent we looked around and there she was, leaping from the gully and charging to the safety of the trees, maybe she hadn't noticed the lions. Lions provide a massive threat to the safety of a leopard, especially one with a cub.
The appearance of the real king (or queen in this case) of the African big cats had startled everything, impala were snorting and puku whistled and bounced around not sure what to do. The lions seized this as their opportunity, going from lazy cats to alive and awake in seconds, the pandemonium caused by the arrival of their spotted cousin was their chance for an early meal.
I’d never seen a lion hunt and wasn't sure what to expect. A large tailless lioness got up and started strolling towards us, impalas watching still not really sure what was going on. Focusing on her I hadn't noticed the other lions fanning out across the lagoon bed, then in a flash everything happened at once. Subsequently I’ve been told it is common for lions to get a bit carried away, getting caught up in the excitement of the situation they attack prematurely and ruin the hunt. This is exactly what happened, the adult lionesses giving up chase almost immediately no doubt exasperated by their younger offspring ruin their chances.
The younger lions hadn’t noticed their failure and continued to give chase but with a herd of fully alert healthy impala there wasn't much chance for success. They skipped and bounced away easily as the inexperienced youths looked stunned at was happening with impala passing within feet but not sure which one to go for, they failed.
As the dust settled the lions went back to doing what they do best, sleeping, not moving again till long after sunset. Finally some lion action, typical it was instigated by a leopard. Leopards rule.