The Gift That Kept On Giving

The Gift That Kept On Giving

This is the story of a giraffe, or more aptly, the story of the lives around a dead giraffe. It is a showcase of how efficient Mother Nature is.

Day 1 Afternoon – Pride of 6

We arrived in Ruaha National Park, a two-hour bush plane ride from Selous, a little after lunchtime. After a light lunch and brief siesta, David, our guide, brought us out on our first game drive. We were driven straight to the site where a giraffe had died of natural causes the day before. Where there are dead carcasses, there will be animals.

Spotted our first lion resting in the periphery of the action

When we think of scavengers, we automatically think vultures and hyenas. The reality is that lions and leopards will also scavenge when given the opportunity. The only cat that will insist on eating fresh caught prey is the cheetah.

The first group of lions feasting on the giraffe carcass belonged to this healthy looking pride of 6 lions led by the lioness.

Don’t let the size fool you, these guys are older cubs that are still dependent on their mom. Cubs will stay with the pride until 2 years of age.
Age of a lion can be determined by the spots on its body, as well as the color of its nose. Spots will fade and the nose will turn from pink to black with age. This one is still sporting a few spots on the hind leg, even though she looks like a lioness herself
Family portrait
Life is good for this male cub
Jackals waiting patiently for their turn
To be clear, the smell of the giraffe carcass was hard to bear. However, the lions didn’t seem to mind one bit. This zoomed-in photo was shot with an iPhone, and the difference in quality is apparent.
The orange-red horizon marked the end of day 1.

Day 2 Morning – The Outlaws

The morning game drive started promptly at 6AM. Since predators are most active between late evenings and early mornings, David thought it would be a good idea to see what the lions were up to.

Sunrises in Africa are on a different level

We found the original pride of six on the outskirts looking towards where the giraffe carcass was.

This one just plopped down right next to the jeep

Apparently, there were 2 male lions now feasting on the giraffe. When the pride tried advancing towards the carcass, the males drove them away. A pride of older cubs led by a lioness is still no match for 2 adult male lions, despite the fact that they outnumbered the two. The pride would later locate a second giraffe carcass a short distance away.

The brothers took advantage of the territory’s rightful owners’ absence.
This one sporting an injury to the left eye looked badass.
Those paws…
Jackals still waiting for their turn.
One swipe of the lion’s paw would prove lethal, so they kept a good distance.
Hooded vulture on the sideline.

Admittedly, watching lions eat wasn’t the most exciting thing in the world. So, after about an hour we set off for our own “bush breakfast” on the river bed. But not before stumbling upon a lone lioness with 2 gaunt looking young cubs.

We later learned from the staff that this particular lioness has not been very successful in rearing her cubs. In fact, she had already lost a set of cubs prior to these two.
A peek at one of the cubs.

Day 2 Afternoon – The Lone Lioness

The afternoon sun proved to be too hot for all the other lions. This gave the lone lioness the opportunity to feast on the giraffe. The cubs were no where to be seen. Likely tucked away somewhere safe.

Ate while she kept a watchful eye on threats.

Day 2 Nighttime – The Lone Mother and Her Cubs

The cubs made an appearance at night, and got a chance to fill their tummies. Unfortunately, the outlaw brothers showed up, and the lioness quickly led the cubs away, as adult male lions will kill cubs that are not their own.

Day 3 Morning – The Rightful Owners

The mystery of who the cubs belonged to was solved when the rightful owners of the territory finally showed up.

What a regal looking lion
These two brothers were equally ferocious when they chased away 2 lionesses waiting in the periphery.
However, they let the cubs eat their fill before they themselves dug in.
Seeing double
A satisfied cub slept in the shade provided by our jeep
Mother and cubs set off once the shade moved
And quenched their thirst at the river bed

Day 3 Afternoon – Jackals, Vultures, and The Gawkers

By now, there was no semblance of a giraffe left on the field. The jackals and vultures finally got their turn after patiently waiting for 3 days.

All the lions had apparently left the area for something else, likely the second giraffe carcass. So David decided it was safe for us to exit the jeep.

A photo with “The Gift That Kept On Giving”

Before sunset, we caught up with the lioness and her 2 cubs.

Moving in the direction of the other giraffe carcass.
Cubs affectionately rubbed against mom
As well as each other
Another African sunset

Hopefully, with the rightful owners back in town, the 2 tiny cubs will get a chance at survival.

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