Impala vs Lioness

Our first day on safari was almost over. It had been an absolute cracker! We had seen some awesome animals as we were tripping all over the Maasai Mara, and seen a wildebeest crossing, and I had had my amazing Mohican experience. I was happy and exhausted.

Dusk was falling as we were heading back to the conservancy from the main park when we came across two male impala engaged in a heavy war. These guys run a harem of dozens of females and as such there is a lot of competition as to who is the top guy. Only one male rules at a time so fights for dominance break out among the males.

It was an amazing sight and sound. The dust was flying up from their hooves each time they lowered their horns and came in for another round. We could hear the clash of their horns as they struck each other again and again, levering to try to get a better grappling point again their opponent.

One of the surprising things for me was how close we were (a constant surprise) with only 5-6 meters separating us from their fight. They were so immersed in each other that they just didn’t see us at all. And we were not alone. There would have been another 3 vehicles parked around them watching the action. As it turned out though it was not just us these valiant warriors did not see. They also missed the approaching lioness!

With it being dusk I couldn’t take any photos any further (my camera and I were having issues when the sun went down regarding taking good pictures) but I could video. The video capabilities of the EM1 were really very good in low light (dusk) so I had switched into video mode and was recording the fight.

So I’m madly filming the clash of the titans when Charles (our guide) says quietly “there is a lioness coming in”! The excitement level in the car went up to level 10 with this news. I just kept pointing the camera at the impala and bang! in she came!

It was amazing. She barrelled into the two males and grabbed one by the throat, dragging it to the ground. The other male raced off to stand about 15-20m away and stood stamping and snorting his surprise and distress. She held the impala on the ground while her sister came in for a look. Then the sister calls with a couple of low whuffing sounds and out of the bushes came three cubs. When they got close the first lioness let the stunned impala go and as it bounced up the cubs then swarmed it in an effort to “re-capture” it. Incredible to watch (sadly I missed the bit where it got up on the video). Over the next little bit we watched as the adults held the imapla and the cubs were given the chance to hone their food preparation skills.

It was gruesome, and awesome, and scary, and heartbreaking and so many other things all in one incredible scene. We were all quite shocked and amazed. What had begun as an interesting imapala battle where we certainly hadn’t expected any death and destruction had turned into a family feast for lions. I guess that the bottom line is that if animals don’t get killed then no one lives and certainly I had seen plenty of killings on various tv nature shows but there is something quite brutal about the reality of watching it unfold in front of your eye.

One thing I can say for sure, between having Mohican look into me and then watching the way these lions attacked the imapala I have a whole new respect for the reality of these animals. They may just look like big lazy pussy cats as they lay around resting but once they get up and into action – boy oh boy! They sure are a force to be reckoned with.

I have no still photos of the event but I have worked out how to embed a video into the blog (yay for me) so I have included it here. It is not super gruesome (as in not flying blood and guts stuff) so if you think it of interest please have a watch. I was rather proud to have it added to the Kicheche Bush Camp “sighting of the week” on their website. Made me feel that what we had seen and captured on video was something a bit special.


She might look relaxed and vague – but she isn’t!


A harem of impala females.


  An impala attack

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2 Responses to Impala vs Lioness

  1. Tracey Hurn says:

    Cool video!
    Dave and your “commentary” during the video is very funny too. I could almost imagine being there.

  2. Andrea Johns says:

    Wow! I fought between watching and half hiding my eyes. The cubs seemed to be playing. Amazing to have witnessed.

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