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  • Caroline Muchekehu

The Hunter

Lioness springs out of the grass in pursuit of a meal
The attack

She came bursting out of the long grass, her eyes fixed on the youngest of the hartebeest herd. This was her second attempt at a hunt, and she was focused and determined. Her body was lean, every muscle defined as she gave chase, her body fully extending, her long stride eating up the distance towards her prey.

Watching from a distance away, the scene was chaos, our ears filled with the sound of panicked bleating, hooves pounding the hard ground, as impala and hartebeest scattered in every direction. As the single #lioness gave chase, the distance between her and her prey began to increase, even as she gave it her all. Within moments, she gave up and slowed to a loping gait, and then to a standstill. As she caught her breath, staring in the direction the herd had fled, the look on her face seemed to be of frustration, perhaps wondering where she had miscalculated.

Lioness walking in Nairobi National Park against the city skyline
Lioness searching for a meal

I had encountered her almost 3 hours earlier, after her first failed attempt. She was walking up the road, and I stopped at an intersection to see which direction she would go in, so that I could follow. About 2 kms down the road she spotted some herbivores in the plains, and settled down to watch them, contemplating her next move. Patience is the name of the game, and she lay down at the edge of the road to watch for an opportunity. But things were not in her favor and she was eventually spotted.

Hartebeest herd on alert after seeing a lioness.
Watching the hunter

At this point she set off in search of greener pastures, and walked off across the plains. When we finally caught up with her again (since we had to go the long way round), she was locked onto a group of hartebeast and was in full hunting mode, stealthily creeping and eventually disappearing low into the grass. “Its good news, when you cannot see her”, one of the guys in the vehicle next to mine informed me. So we patiently waited for the scene to unfold, hoping that this would be the day we witnessed a successful lion hunt. Alas, it was not to be, for either the hunter or the observers.

Lioness walking away after a failed hunt.
The look of defeat

As she set off down the road, perhaps in search of another opportunity, I contemplated all the things that must align for a lioness to successfully make a kill. It seems to me that there really is balance in nature… for every successful kill, how many failed attempts have there been?

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