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When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted

March 4, 2013 lioness chasing buffalo

Down on the crater floor, four female lions slowly approached a herd of buffalo. As they got closer, they separated and began to circle the herd until it was surrounded. Each one then lay down, as if they were just resting instead of getting in position to attack. The buffaloes weren’t fooled by their nonchalance and periodically one would muster up the courage to mock-charge one of the females to try and scare her off. Each time this happened, the lioness would retreat a little before settling back down to wait. The buffaloes stood their ground, facing the females while suppressing the desire to panic and run. It became a waiting game, the buffaloes becoming more anxious with each passing minute.

Suddenly, the lead female launched an attack, startling the buffaloes and sending the herd running in different directions. Singling out one particular buffalo, she chased it and began to overtake the buffalo. However the tables turned, when only seconds into the chase, the buffalo swung its massive body around, turning on the lioness and chasing her! Hunting a scared buffalo is one thing, but being chased by an angry buffalo is something altogether different. Realizing she was no longer on the offensive, she quickly abandoned the attack and rejoined her sisters.

It wasn’t over. Buffaloes by nature can be extremely aggressive when one of their own is attacked and so while the sisters were regrouping several of the buffaloes came at them and surrounded the small pride, putting the females on the defensive. With their backs to each other, the lionesses anxiously stood their ground, crouching low and trying to scare the buffaloes away with acts of bravado. Undaunted, and with numbers on their side, the buffaloes kept them pinned down for almost 20 minutes, letting the pride know they were not welcomed. Satisfied that the lionesses understood the message, the buffaloes returned to the herd and the lionesses sprinted off, lucky they had escaped without any injuries.

Photo courtesy of Bernard Kaufman.

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