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.
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.
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.
We found the original pride of six on the outskirts looking towards where the giraffe carcass was.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Before sunset, we caught up with the lioness and her 2 cubs.
Hopefully, with the rightful owners back in town, the 2 tiny cubs will get a chance at survival.