A video taken by ranger Sam of a lion kill as they were busy suffocating a buffalo on the 14th of June 2016. The Kruger National Park and surrounding areas are currently going through the worst drought in recorded history with 19991/92 being the previous worst season. This year was superseded by a dry year so the effect might be even worst than in 1992. We had some rain very late in the season, but it was too late to stimulate growth and scientists predict that buffaloes and hippos will be hit hardest.
Nature can seem very cruel, especially during droughts, but droughts have an important natural selection role to play – young and old as well as individuals with a weaker genetic make-up will die, ensuring that the resulting genetic pool is stronger and healthier in the long run. Droughts are healthy for ecosystems and what is good for the ecosystem is not necessarily always what is good for individual plants and animals. A drought is a way of resetting the system. Carnivores and predators would benefit from this change.
Lions are well adapted to spot a weakness such as an animal losing condition due to the ongoing drought. Buffaloes are dangerous adversaries and although the reward can be substantial in killing a buffalo, the danger of serious injury to a lion itself can be high and not always worth the risk. The tables turn against buffaloes in times of drought and they now become a lion’s favorite target. Seventy percent of lion kills are now buffaloes and the adrenaline levels rise when one sees sleeping lions lift their heads and prick their ears upon hearing the distant bellow of a buffalo as this now shows real intent instead of just normal curiosity. Spotting a lion kill during a wildlife safari, the most sought after sighting for most safari visitors, might just become a reality.