One of the most exciting times on African Safari was in the Ngorongoro Crater. My clients and I had entered the crater as soon as the gates were opened and drove the very steep and windy road to the bottom. The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest freestanding volcanic crater in the world. The floor of the crater covers 110 sq. mi. and boasts a wildlife population of 50,000 including 110 lions and nine rare Black Rhinos that are high on the endangered list.
As we toured the bottom of the crater, we came across two large male lions resting in the grass, minding their own business. About 150 yards away we found two female lions doing the same thing. As we watched a zebra that I’m sure wasn’t too bright walk between the male and female lions. Immediately one of the female lions stood up and got the zebra’s attention. Once the zebra was staring at her intently with his rump pointed directly at the male lions, the female laid back down. As the zebra stared at her she would sit up, look around, and then lay back down. She continued to do this for some minutes keeping the zebra’s attention. The larger of the two male lions stood up, walked toward the zebra a few steps. He looked like he was whistling and kicking a rock like a kid trying not to look like he is doing something wrong. He continued this process 3 to 4 minutes getting closer to the zebra each time.
As we watched intently to see what would happen, the male lion started a slow walk toward the zebra. He continued walking for perhaps 20 yards; he then started to trot then broke into a full charge at the rump of the zebra. As the lion lunged to get on the back of the zebra, the zebra came to his senses and bolted causing the lion to land far back on the zebra’s rump instead of his back. With the lion hanging on the zebra began to spin in a circle kicking and jumping as he did so. After two or so spins the zebra kicked the lion off and ran for his life.
One of my clients was using a video camera to film the attack. However as we view the video much of the story was lost because it happened so fast, we saw very little of the real action between the lion & zebra. Later at camp when we viewed our photographs we could clearly see that the zebra wasn’t defenseless. In fact one of my photos clearly shows the lion being kicked in the jaw so hard it should have taken the lion’s head off.
The Ngorongoro Crater is located on the east side of the Serengeti National Park and is a favorite of mine.
Below are some photos I took during the Lion attack.
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