The day started much like any other in the Kalahari. However it would turn out to be a day unlike any other I’d experienced in the park. By Morkel Erasmus
We arrived in Twee Rivieren in the afternoon. After doing a short drive up the Nossob River towards the Leeuwdril waterhole we came across a pride of five lions resting under a tree (three females and two males). They were being lazy and besides moving up to the dune for sunset they didn’t do much at all. It was soon time to leave before the gates to the camp closed.
We got up at the crack of dawn and rushed to get everything ready for our short morning drive. I was on holiday with my wife, our nearly two-year-old daughter and our four-month-old son. Our drives were never too long – just enough for me to get some photos in that glorious Kalahari light before we usually returned to camp to swim, rest and play with the kids.
We were the first of all the camp visitors out of the gate. No mean feat considering we had to bundle two young kids and their packages of toys and blankets into the vehicle!
We drove out towards Samevloeiing where I noticed the Land Rover of legendary Kalahari pro photographer Hannes Lochner parked right across the waterhole. As we drove up beside him, he showed us the pride lying on the open plains.
I then noticed two young eland antelopes a little further to my right. At this point I just knew we were in for something special – whether they made the kill or not – just SEEING this unfold in front of us was a bucket-list experience. It was slightly overcast on the horizon, so we had nice soft light with a hint of dawn colours. Slowly the antelopes started walking towards the road, not noticing the stalking lioness. In this time, they’d now caught the attention of the other lions.
They moved ever closer to us, and to the waiting lions…
Ever closer they came…I saw the opportunity for some unique photos and braced myself to get the timing just right.
I turned my camera to portrait mode to capture something of the lovely dawn sky in the background, pre-focusing on the lioness I waited for the exact moment.
The moment they were past us, I saw them jump on the unfortunate eland behind our position. This was followed by white dust that enveloped them in an impenetrable cloud.
I quickly swung the vehicle around and pulled into a position that would give me a head-on vantage point with a relatively low angle for the ensuing struggle. My eyes could see there was something in the white dust-cloud but I couldn’t make it out, much less take a photo. When the dust started clearing I eventually discerned something through the viewfinder and locked focus.
This is the scene that emerged…
Suffice to say that the two males left very little for the females to eat, and thereafter the jackals took over. This pride made two more kills during the next two days but none of them were close to the roads and none came close to what we witnessed on this glorious Kalahari morning.
About the photographer
Morkel Erasmus is a passionate photographer whose love of Africa has taken him across the continent photographing its wild places and wildlife (when he’s not keeping the pot cooking at home as an Industrial Engineer and devoted husband of one and father of two, that is). We’re a big fan of his work!