Tales from the Serengeti - Episode 13: "Cats. And I don't mean the musical"

Posted June 15th 2013 by: Bob House

After interviewing Dr. Robert Fyumagwa, head TAWIRI's (Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute) Serengeti District, and having one of Mama Mika and Mama Dogo's fabulous made from scratch meals, we headed out in search of the big cats.

First we were rewarded as we came across two lionesses lounging high in a tree. It wasn't until a few years ago that tree-climbing lions began appearing in the Serengeti. About two miles later we found two Spotted Leopard pups. While our driver Lazaro told us they were just pups, they weren't of a size I would want to tangle with. The two were chilling in tree totally ambivalent to the more than 20 cars parked on the roadside loaded with camera wielding tourists busily snapping photos. Having a film permit we were allowed to drive off the road and position ourselves almost close enough to the tree that the pups, if they had wanted to could have leapt from the tree to come and play with us in our vehicle. We could hear several people ask their drives why they couldn't get closer like us. Their drivers had to explain they weren't allowed to do so and that we were because we were making a documentary.

About the equivalent of two blocks further down the road the mother was high in a tree enjoying a meal of her most recent kill. We watched as she tore at the remains of an impala she'd hunted down and dragged high up where other animals couldn't take it from her. After a short time, when she'd had her fill, she slowly descended to a lower branch and let out several guttural sounds alerting her cubs in the other tree that dinner was waiting. Then she found a comfortable branch about 20 feet off the ground to recline on. As we continued to watch and film her a sudden movement just below the window of our Land Cruiser caught our attention. We look down to see a hyena moving closer and closer to tree, it's nose in the air smelling the bloody scent of the impala drifting down from high above. The big cat barely moved and only gave out with a bored yawn as the hyena circled below, well aware that it's kill high in the tree was well out of reach of the hyena who can't climb trees. She seemed to have a look of pure satisfaction on her face while the hyena frustrated with not being able to climb the tree to partake in the cat's recent kill, slunk off and disappeared into the deep African grass. No meal here for the hyena!

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