NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The running royals

A royal walk rapidly becomes a royal run

In Summary

• A trio of mature moody buffalo bulls spoil the party for king of the jungle

The royal couple after running
The royal couple after running
Image: GARETH JONES

It was late one afternoon that we found a mating pair of lions near No 4 junction. The male was in his prime and is known to many people as Sam, and appeared to be enjoying his “honeymoon” with a young lioness.

We sat quietly watching the “honeymoon couple” for a while. Then suddenly, a trio of mature moody buffalo bulls came wandering over the plains and moved directly towards the lions. At first, Sam growled loudly and flicked his tail in anger. However, the buffalo were not even slightly concerned. They merely continued to move forward towards the “honeymoon” lions.

Eventually, the leading buffalo bull was grazing grass only about 10m from the frustrated growling lions. Suddenly the buffalo bull charged directly at the lions. The lions retreated rapidly and then tried to recover some of their dignity by walking as regally as a royal couple should.

But the royal walk rapidly became a royal run, as all three buffalo bulls charged simultaneously towards the lions. Again Sam and his “lady” continued to run for about 20m, and slowed down to try and walk regally again. But the moodiest of the buffalo trio simply continued to charge after the royal couple, resulting in Sam and his “lady” fleeing for the third time in a most undignified manner.

Both the lions looked totally stressed and definitely did not enjoy being forced to run. It was a cloudy, dark late afternoon and we drove away as the buffalo continued grazing as if nothing had happened. While Sam and his “lady” retreated to a safer part of the park, no doubt they would want to forget about their encounter with the buffalo bull trio, resulting in a dampened ego as the royals ran for safety.