Yesterday evening we were able to get some clear visuals of four lionesses hunting along the lakeshore. They lazed about under the cover of a large bush for the majority of the day, seemingly full from a recent meal, obvious by the bloodstains on their face and chest. They began to awaken around 15:00pm. By 17:00 they started moving along the tree line, a clear division between the c.100 meters of open grassland and dense forest that stretches up into the escarpment. The lions use this tree lion as a wall, looking onto the the impala who often graze in these open areas between the forest and lake. Prey species prefer these open grasslands for the type of vegetation that is found, but also for the clear view of the surroundings, making it difficult for predators to conceal themselves. Around 18:30, as daylight was all but gone, it was evident these four were on the hunt. They left the forest and proceeded north to the waters edge, contemplating a hippo as a possible meal, but at more than double their combined weight, a bit audacious. Carrying on east, halfway between the water and the forest, a few impala stood frozen, aware that something was amidst. The quadruplet took their time, easing closer and surrounding the two quivering impala. The lions can use this tension to force the impala to make the first move, rather than initiating the attack, and this is exactly what happened. Both fled in different directions, the lions closed in on one but missed, still deliberated from their recent meals.
The lions photographed here are known as F107, F108 and F109 - the 'F' indicating female. These coded names have been given to the lions according to their sex, their pride and when first observed by the Matusadona Lion Project principle researcher Rae Kokeš. The study, supported by the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) is establishing a current lion population size, trends and focusing on the population's unique ecology.