Day 358 of 400: Rhulani Safari Lodge, morning game drive (4 of 6) – Madikwe, South Africa

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Is it weird to have a favorite beetle? We were introduced to the “dung” beetle on this morning’s safari drive. This beetle finds a piece of poop dropped from a large animal, then the female beetle latches onto the side of the poop ball and the male beetle rolls the poop to a nice grassy spot where she will lay her eggs. The jeep stopped so we could watch one of these male beetles roll his piece of poop (which by the way was much larger than him) to the side of the road, all while the female was holding on tight. It was so amazing to watch this small bug rolling something much larger than he was, he in fact can actually roll a poop ball 10 times his own weight! Since these beetles eat poop, it is a good place to lay the eggs so that the larvae can feed on the poop which surrounds them. We had never heard of this dung beetle…so interesting, who knew?!

After our dung beetle experience, the ranger decided to take the jeep off the road and into the bushes…this thing literally just took trees and bushes down as it drove over them. We ducked and moved around trying to avoid getting pricked by the thorns but also anxiously looking ahead in anticipation of what may be hiding. When we pulled up…amongst the trees, bushes and tall grasses were a couple of lions laying on the ground resting. As we got closer, we saw a buffalo carcass with millions of maggots devouring the remains. We saw the same lioness with her two cubs as well as a young male, about 2-3 years old…probably from the lioness’ last litter. They were eating what they could get off the bones of the buffalo, it was probably a few days old and there wasn’t much left. They grabbed onto the buffalo skin and pulled with their sharp teeth, even the little cubs dug right in.

This was truly a national geographic moment…to see a huge lioness with her two cubs all gnawing the bones of this dead buffalo in the middle of no where, deep in the bush of South Africa-wow. We were so close to these lions…in fact, the lioness finally got irritated and walked straight over to our jeep glaring at us. The ranger whispered to us to stay still…OMG is this lioness going to eat us next?? She was breathing heavily and licking the blood off her lips all while glaring straight into our eyes. She could have taken one jump and been inside our jeep. Even Giff who continued clicking the camera got a little nervous when she turned her glare straight at him. Let me be clear…these are completely wild animals and we were in a open-air jeep a few feet away from them. The ranger saw the lioness was getting upset with us so started the car and reversed away from her until she seemed ok with the distance. We had such an amazing time taking pictures and video of this moment…this is not something you get to see regularly on these drives, we got lucky. Since there were other jeeps that wanted to get their turn to see the lions, we drove back out and onto the dirt road. We took a couple of pictures of the young male who would soon be kicked out of the pride by the dominant males on our way out.

Now, we can definitely saw we’ve seen lions on this safari experience!! We’ve officially seen three of the big five (buffalo, elephant and lion)…two more to go (Rhino and leopard). We pulled over to have our coffee break…coffee and Amarula with little muffins/cookies for a bit while chatting about what we just saw. Back in the jeep and driving towards the lodge, we saw another wildebeest, a few baboons, zebra and impala.

AT the lodge, we sat down and ate a leisurely breakfast and then went back to our bungalow to relax for a few hours before our evening drive.

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