Lion tracking

Behind the scenes – and sounds – of lion tracking

One morning, all of the guests at Marataba Safari Lodge woke up to the sound of lion vocalisations.

The impressive sound, which started at a distance, continued to get louder, indicating that the lions were moving closer.

While my guests and I were having morning coffee, we tracked the audible movements carefully, hoping to go and find its source during our morning game drive. As everybody was getting ready to leave, the vocalisations stopped for a while and we got distracted by our conversation.

Everybody got into the vehicle, still chatting away, when suddenly the lion’s roars vocalised very close to the lodge, and we could pinpoint quite precisely where the sound was coming from.

The conversation was cut off immediately and I took off to relocate this vocal animal. The tension and concentration in the vehicle was tangible! By tracking the sound of its regular roars, moans and grunts, switching the vehicle off regularly to do so, we eventually found him! One of Marataba’s big dominant males simply walked out of the bush and followed the road we were on.

He was certainly on a mission, walking briskly, not scent marking or lingering for any reason. After an approximately 2-minute-long sighting, he once more veered off into thick bush and we lost sight of him.

Again, we tracked him by sound, stopping and going as soon as he vocalised or we heard bushes moving. A few hundred metres further, he came out onto the road again and we could admire his graceful and powerful walk, as well as his magnificent black mane.

While we ended up losing him as he moved off into the bush and stopped calling, he supplied us with an amazing start to the morning and an exciting tracking experience. We often hear lions roaring from Safari Lodge, and this is one of the best and most exciting ways to find them on a game drive!

Words by: Helen Mertens
Photo by: Adriaan Mulder

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