The last day of the year basically summarized what a super fantastic year we had here at Mhondoro. We had been spoiled with excellent wildlife sightings all year and it culminated into a spectacular finale for 2018.
Eager to get the game drive going we departed from the lodge just before sunrise, when literally five minutes down the road we spotted two sub-adult lions climbing and playing in the trees, with mom close by. Play ended as mom started walking away and they followed. Watching them closely I noticed that mom was not in a playful mood as they walked right past a rhino and her calf, which on any other day they would probably have chased for fun.
The lioness kept walking at a fast pace, and when the two youngsters passed her at a playful trot, she snapped at them. They obeyed and retreated, and this is when I realized that the hunt was on. Driving parallel alongside them I scouted the plains and spotted a herd of wildebeest in the distance. I recommended to my guests that we should position ourselves close to the wildebeest, hoping that the lions would approach to stalk them.
It was not long, and we noticed the three lions’ heads popping out of the long grass. With perfect morning light we watched the lion get closer. At this point the dominant male wildebeest started chasing young males around and the herd trotted away, running directly towards the lion. The lioness ducked down to hide and waited, while the frontrunner ran right up to the lion. When it noticed the yellow eyes staring at him from the long grass, it was already too late, she was only seven metres away and pounced on his back to bring him down right in front of our vehicles.
The lioness waited for the two young males to get their weight on him and then she moved away to lie down a short distance away to give the inexperienced youngsters the opportunity to kill the wildebeest – a process that took about 45 minutes. All of this, barely four meters away from us, before 7am on the last day of the year…