Safari goer, Chloe Barnett, shares a story from a magical journey ….
Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe is one of the most glorious National Parks in Africa. Here, the mighty Zambezi River meanders along the border that separates Zimbabwe and Zambia and wildlife roams freely between the two countries. The Park is well known for its vast floodplains, ox-bow lagoons, beautiful trees, elephants and big herds of buffalo. There are only a handful of lodges in the area, the nearest commercial airport is at least 5 hours’ drive away and only a lucky few have the privilege of camping out in Mana.
We were there at the time of new moon and the nights were terribly black and perfect for predators. At about midnight on our second night, as we lay cozily in the cocoon of our tent, we heard a terrible raucous, a lion and elephant encounter that thankfully ended quickly and we dozed off to sleep wondering what had happened. The day begins early in Africa, for some reason, it is easy to get out of bed at first light, I think it is because you never know what the day will bring, but certainly, your effort is rewarded with the most stunning light over the bush and in Mana, over the river too.
A quick bowl of cereal, a rusk and a coffee, load the vehicle with snacks for later, cameras and binoculars … we were off to spend the morning exploring. It was less than a mile from camp that we came across a pride of lions lounging around their kill, which was still recognizable as a young elephant.
Emotions run high! For an instant, there is the thrill that you have found ‘the king of the jungle’ and the cameras whirr and click. But quickly there is the intimacy of death, the thought of the terror, the sadness that this beautiful young elephant has lost his life, you console yourself … so that others will live. You are at once both drawn and repulsed by the scene before you; the bloody muzzles, the crack of bones, dusty light and nature in all its raw glory.
For the next 3 mornings ‘the kill’ was the first stop on our morning game drive and whilst there was always a little sadness here, it was fascinating to watch the progression. Whilst often too full to do more than collapse on the ground, digesting their belly-full, the lions kept control of the carcass for a good 2 days, despite the vultures and hyenas sneaky snatch & grab attacks. Eventually, the lions had to leave to find water and that gave the scavengers free range and they worked quickly. The lions returned and chased them off, though now there was little left and I imagine the insects & bacteria were well established breaking down the elephant’s remains. It was macabre and fascinating, like our own science experiment.
Mana Pools National Park is just one of the great safari destinations in Zimbabwe that combine perfectly with a stay at Victoria Falls. If you need safari advice please just get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you with the experts that arranged our Mana Safari.