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The Lion and the Buffalo., Meru Oct. 2012

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The Lion and the Buffalo., Meru Oct. 2012

Post  Safariman on Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:48 pm

This incident occurred during my visit to Meru National Park, Kenya at the end of Oct. 2010. Meru is about an hour by small plane northeast of Nairobi. Bounded by the Nyembeni Hills to the west, Bisanadi National Reserve to the east and the Tana River and Kora National Park to the south, the Park is bisected by the Equator and being a lot lower in height than the Mara and Laikipia, below 2000ft., is very hot and dry. Afternoon temperatures reach the mid to high 30's and never drop below 20 at night. The Park's lifeblood are 13 permanent rivers and streams which criss-cross the Park before discharging into the Tana River. Off the tourist map and little visited, Meru gives the feeling of having the whole Park to yourself.
I was staying at Offbeat Safaris' Meru Camp, a small 6 tent camp on the banks of the Bisanadi River. Being at the end of the season, the camp closes in November for the rains, there was only one other person in camp, a young Irish woman on her first safari.
Leaving camp before sunrise on our morning drive with our Masai guides Jackson and Bernard, we had been out for about a couple of hours and were driving alongside one of Meru's swamps when we were confronted by a herd of about 100-150 buffalo spread out either side of the road. As we stopped to take the obligatory photos, Jackson spotted a male lion casually relaxing on the opposite side of the road from the swamp. The lions of Meru are very elusive and not easy to find and the males are particularly unusual in having very small manes probably due to the year round hot temperatures. This guy was doing what all male lions do after years of practice, nothing! However they are able to give off an air of superior and arrogant indifference. He knew the buffalo were there but chose to ignore them. Having become bored with being photographed he slowly rose to his feet, looked at the buffalo and ambled across the road to disappear into a culvert ( I think lugga is the correct term but I am not sure). By this time the buffalo had wandered off into the swamp with one or two laggards bringing up the rear. We had lost sight of the lion and were ready to move on when the lion suddenly exploded out of his hiding place and and instantly brought down a young adult buffalo. We then had a slight problem; Meru being a National Park does not allow off-road driving except in an emergency, with a hefty fine for any driver who is caught (the Masai Mara is a National Reserve which has different rules and allows off-roading). However we decided this was in fact an emergency and headed towards the action!!
The lion had brought down the buffalo in the swamp and when we arrived on the scene both were covered in a thick film of black mud. Either distracted by the vehicle or thinking he had completed his task, the lion released his grip on the buffalo and moved to one side to admire his handiwork. The buffalo was only stunned and with difficulty got to its feet and started to trot away. The lion raising one eyebrow and with a look of utter contempt and disdain simply walked after the buffalo before launching itself to bring down the hapless creature again. This time he did not release his grip until he had squeezed the life out of his victim before dragging it off to devour at his leisure. We decided to leave the lion in peace and drove off to have our own breakfast which was fortunately in a cooler box at my feet and did not need catching!! Jackson and Bernard exchanged high fives, explaining that this was the first ever lion kill seen in Meru by anyone at Offbeats' Camp including guides, although they had witnessed kills on the Mara. It was an amazing experience.

The predator

The buffalo herd

Taking a look


Predator and victim

A chance to escape?

Caught again

No letting go

The winner

To the victor the spoils!!


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Re: The Lion and the Buffalo., Meru Oct. 2012

Post  Laikipia on Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:09 pm

Safariman. I love your story with all the information and facts. I've never visited Meru, but hope to one day.

The photos are wonderful, how different that lion is with his mane, still very handsome though. In the first photo he has a real tweeky bit sticking up Laughing

What a great morning you must have had.

Thanks for sharing.


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Re: The Lion and the Buffalo., Meru Oct. 2012

Post  RMorr50912 on Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:44 am

Wow! Excellent story with the pics to illustrate it! I have to admit the "mohawk" mane is really different, maybe a younger male? Seems he was very efficient in the task at hand though! He really looked like he'd been in a wallow with a warthog after this one. Thanks for the story and the pics.


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Re: The Lion and the Buffalo., Meru Oct. 2012

Post  whitestarling on Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:01 am

Brilliant story yet again Safariman, its really great explaining the lead up to the taking of the photos, and a lovely sequence of shots taking you through it all
Thaks Safariman

If I can make somebody smile, my day has been worthwhile

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Re: The Lion and the Buffalo., Meru Oct. 2012

Post  littlewid on Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:45 pm

Love the picture of the Buff Boys Safariman, they look as though they are staring straight at you wanting their photo taken.
The first picture of the Lion is so lovely, he looks quite regal doesn't he but he also looks very wise, I really do like that picture.

I am pleased you managed to share in the first Lion Kill at Meru watched by someone from Offbeats, that must have been one heck of an experience for you and your photographs capture it so well ( I did have to look at those with a bit of a squint though Safariman.....I love the Buff Boys and i'm not too good with all the killing pics.....sorry Embarassed ). I did smile though about the bit of the Lion getting bored being photographed and wandering off and not seeming to be interested in the buffalo to suddenly springing from where he was hiding, I reckon he was quite an expert hunter.

Thanks for sharing the pictures and story with us safariman.


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Re: The Lion and the Buffalo., Meru Oct. 2012

Post  Doogs on Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:54 pm

WOW you were extremely lucky Safariman to have witnessed that.

Thanks for the info, setting the scene and of course the story, well told and well written. He certainly was a funny looking lion with that rather scrawny mane !!

Good bit of mud wrestling by the lion in order to get his breakfast that morning !

Doogs lion cub

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Re: The Lion and the Buffalo., Meru Oct. 2012

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