A Meeting of 2 Families (Part 3)
We packed up the coolboxes, packed up the snacks. We got the spotlights ready, filled the Cruiser up with fuel and left on a game drive. Our plan was simple, we had seen a great big herd of buffalo that morning and our intention was to see if we could find them and follow them for a while. We left the camp.On the drive we travelled past Santawani camp and on towards the Gomoti river. We had done a couple of hours of driving and as the sun set we stopped under some palm trees, unpacked the coolers and the tables and the chairs and the snacks and watched as the sun raced to the horizon. There is nothing quite like it. Botswana is a very dusty environment and the lower layers of the atmosphere are heavy with particles. When the sun shines vertically through the atmosphere the amount of air it passes through is relatively thin when compared to shining through the atmosphere obliquely. As the sun gets closer to the horizon, this angle becomes more and more oblique and the light passes through more and more air, and therefore more and more dust. As the light passes through the dust it reflects certain colours and absorbs others. However this happens the result is gorgeous and the sun seems to grow bigger and redder as it gets closer to the ground and by the time it touches the ground it is a great big orb that although bright is not too bright to look at. There is a moment when you can still see part of the sun but the ground between you and it is now in shadow, then its gone and almost immediatly with it you can feel the temperature drop. We sat for a while absorbing this and while we packed up, the night life began to come out for its turn to play.
As we drove back towards camp we began to find some night animals, from the tiny little Bushbabies, to rabbits to genets with even a couple of elephant along the way. Each time we saw something, we would stop. At one time a jackal ran past us with no interest in us at all, as if he was heading somewhere. We stopped and listened. We could hear Hyaena calling. We decided to investigate. We drove past Santawani’s airstrip and towards Savannah camp on the northern road. This is where we came across the buffalo herd. There was a huge amount of dust, the animals were moving fast with no particular dirction. They were milling about. We stopped the vehicle and listened. We could hear them now. The Hyaena. The next half an hour we spent getting closer to the core of the action, the source of all the activity.
One of the lion prides had brought down a buffalo and were beginning to dig in to dinner. As they ate the calling of the Hyaena and the Jackal and the smell of blood in the air along with the milling about of the buffalo was bringing in more and more Hyaena. The lion were beginning to be outnumbered and the males were not present. As the Hyaena congregated they became braver and braver first making incidental forays to the buffalo carcass. The lionesses saw them off. It was very exciting and we were riveted to the game of survival developing before our eyes. Each attack became more and more serious. Each foray became more and more violent. In a couple of hours it was a flat out war, and I am sorry to say it, but the lionesses lost this battle and the hyaena got the kill. This didn’t stop the war though, because now they were fighting each other, and the lions were still around. We decided we had seen enough, we were right there for everything. I started the vehicle and began to reverse the truck. There was something wrong. We had a puncture. We reversed the truck about 50m away not wanting to destroy the tyre and put the ladies on the roof with spotlights. We men climbed out of the truck, surrounded by bush crawling with buffalo and bloodthirsty Lions and Hyaena. It was certainly the fastest tyre I had ever changed.