The Kafue National Park lies to the west of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. After driving for around 2 hours we turned off the asphalt road that leads to the Angolan border. Another 2 hours and we arrived at Musekese Camp, our base for the next few days. On arrival we were told that we had just come at the right time as the previous evening two hippo’s had fought just outside the camp and one of them was dead not a 100 metres away. We were told ‘two things were to happen, one, it was to get very smelly in camp and two, big cats will come.’
Luckily, the smell never permeated the camp. The vultures and the hyena started to make short work of the carcass of the dead hippo, until the big cat made his appearance. Two days after our arrival a large male lion about 5 years old took over the ‘kill’, everything else kept its distance. Now you would think that with a full hippo carcass to dine on at his leisure, anything would be anticlimax, but when a family of warthogs inadvertently wandered close to the hippo site, the lion couldn’t resist an early morning snack of young warthog, lightening speed and clouds of dust, the young warthog stood no chance.
We were having breakfast three days in, about to move to the Busanga Plains, another 4 hour drive through the Kafue bush. As we sat on the veranda, a second large male lion cantered past not 5 metres away, a few coffee splurts later and he was gone, off to share the good fortune of a ‘friendly fire’ kill.
I was never one for ‘camping out’ when I was young. When I was school age that’s what we did in the summer holidays. Now sleeping in a canvas tent on the edge of the Busanga Plains with a lion roaring away just outside the tent sort of gets the juices flowing, even at 4 o’clock in the morning. The Busanga Plains is one of Africa’s largest protected areas, but it still succumbs to its (not) so fair share of poaching. But what an amazing place, herds of zebra, antelope of many shapes and sizes and a plethora of beautiful sub-Saharan birds, it is paradise on earth. We witnessed a lion kill. The ‘Machine’ as she was known stalked a large herd of antelope, relying on stealth until she was spotted and the herd were alerted to her presence. She changed her tactics, rather than staying low in the long grass, she stood proud and charged at the herd knowing that there had to be one that was infirm or just old and she was right of course. Once the kill was over it was back to the business of grazing for the antelope, such is life on the plains.