Lions on the Hunt: A Thrilling Safari Experience from Chindeni Camp In Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park
In October, I had the extreme thrill to witness the team dynamics and strategy of a pride of lions hunting near The Bushcamp Company’s Chindeni Camp in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. It was a dark night and as we headed back to Chindeni our spotlight caught glimpse of a couple of lions at a far distance that were moving slowly with purpose toward a large heard of around 100 impala.
We carefully rushed around to not disturb the approach and when we arrived, we could see a lioness crouched down just 40 yards downwind of the impala and two other lions were moving quickly around the flank of the herd in a stalking posture, bellies slung low to the ground.
We turned off the spotlight to not interfere with the hunt. After about three minutes we turn on the light for a quick status check and the downwind lioness has cut the distance in half and was now about 20 yards from the herd. We again go dark listening in anticipation.
There is an impala warning bark, then another and another. Turn on the spotlight and the impala have moved off in the other direction and the lions begin to gather together, panting from what must have been a brief and futile chase. One lioness stood up and began to walk in the direction that the impala had disappeared into. It appeared that hunger would drive another attempt and our hunger would build too as there was no way we could leave and head back for dinner now.
We hustled back to the road and drove ahead to find the impala but to our surprise the lions were already on the scene as well but this time we were there just in time to see everything unfold from the beginning. The impala were scattered throughout a large open plain. The breeze in our faces made it clear that the lions were downwind and one lioness stalked directly toward the impala while the other five quickly flanked around the side but as they neared the tree line they stopped.
We would sit in the dark and check every four to five minutes. The flankers continued to slowly stalk along and on our first check they were about 1/3rd of the way across the herd.
The second check they had made it across ½ the herd and it became clear to me that their job would be to drive the impala directly toward us and the remaining downwind lioness would attempt to intercept them by surprise. I was feeling optimistic now and felt that we were positioned perfectly for the action.
Our next check and the flankers were 2/3rds of the way across the herd, definitely looking good, the ‘catcher’ lioness had stopped stalking and maintained her position. Senses heightened we sat in total darkness and then a single impala warning bark followed by all hell breaking loose, a cacophony of stampeding hooves thundering in our direction.
The spotlight clicks on and impala are flying by all around us with tremendous leaps and bounds, then I hear the pronounced thud of a tremendous collision, which William, the tracker immediately catches in the light just in time to see a lioness collapse on top of an instantly lifeless impala. At this point I start the video of a feeding event that takes just 13 minutes for the impala to about disappear.