Wildlife filmmakers, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, have filmed some of the most breath-taking and heart-wrenching footage in the Savuti region of Botswana. The largest land mammal and Africa’s most tenacious predator battle it out for survival in one of the wildest places on earth; the elephants desperate for water and the lions fraught with hunger. In the Savuti, the famously large pride of 30 lions become elephant hunters, learning how to prey on these massive beasts and revealing some of the most incredible wildlife behavior in the natural world.
It is the definition of evolution; the actions taken by this group of lions to maintain their strength and to survive the harsh, dry conditions of the Savuti in winter. The lack of ungulate prey species between the months of August and November creates a problem for the lions as they see their source of food disappear with the supply of water. Botswana’s ample population of elephants became the new target for these hungry cats, and a hunting method was nurtured and perfected, singling out the younger members of the herd and using brute strength and endurance to take down an indulgent meal.
It is quite spectacular, the will of both the lions and the elephant to fight for their survival in the battle. The lions determined to cling on to the dangerous, thrashing creature, and the elephants adament to defy the teeth and claws and weight of 5 adult lions.
Today, the Savuti is a game viewing paradise. The Savuti Channel started to flow again after an almost 30-year drought, encouraging the vegetation to grow and the animals to quench their thirst at its banks. Elephants abound and the lion prides are strong, although the famous pride of 30 has split up following the replenishment of the Savuti Marsh. This learned behaviour has travelled through the genes of the lions who fought elephants in those days of drought before 2008, and the Savuti remains the best place to view this incredible, yet horrifying interaction.
It attracts wildlife enthusiasts, filmmakers and solace-seekers every year to its heaving marshlands and plethoric ecosystems, each visitor anticipating the sight of the lions of the Savuti and the whitened skeletons of elephants that decorate the landscape.
At Camp Savuti, located on the banks of the famously temperamental Savuti Channel, travellers can find themselves in the thick of it all. With only 5 tented chalets and the surrounding wilderness to look out upon, it is truly a bushveld utopia that sings of Africa and the untamed beast that she is.
A game drive with Camp Savuti introduced us to this inspirational place, and sure enough, there were these legendary lions. A large pride, complete with cubs actively playing in the marshy shallows for all to see. Photographer Kevin MacLaughlin captured the sensational scene from Camp Savuti’s game viewer showing just how unfazed these lions were by the presence of people in their pridelands and just how much of a thrilling experience it was. Watch Kevin’s short video on the beauty of the Savuti as he filmed it from his experience with Camp Savuti:
Story Courtesy of African Geographic
Photos Courtesy of Kevin MacLaughlin