Being as patient as the lions
Grab a coffee and just wait; something will happen when those wildebeest start grazing again.” This softly spoken order comes from Jackson Looseyia, our guide for the week and previously a presenter with BBC on their Big Cat Live programme.
While we drink coffee and enjoy home-made shortbread, Jackson is scanning the plains through his binoculars, his already sharp eyesight aided by a pair of Swarovskis. He’s watching a pride of lions slowly making its way off a rocky Masai Mara kopje, using every blade of grass and stunted shrub to avoid the gaze of a herd of wildebeest already spooked and looking in their direction.
Suddenly all hell breaks loose and coffee cups (thankfully stainless steel rather than china) are quickly thrown to one side as cameras and binoculars are grabbed to capture the moment close up. Two lionesses, unseen until this point, have outflanked the wildebeest and sat up behind them startling them into a run towards the hillside where the rest of the pride lie in wait. Seconds seem like hours as we can see exactly what’s about to happen while the wildebeest have no idea a trap is about to be sprung.
Finally a single animal is driven close enough and three of the lions on the hillside rush towards it with two launching themselves onto its hindquarters to bring it down.
This is the culmination of a week in the Masai Mara with Jackson, based at his private tented camp, driving across the plains of the Masai Mara he calls his “office”. From a tribe of hunter-gatherers Jackson was trained in the ways of the wild by his father including one trip away which lasted six months. On this trip he was taught to track dangerous animals including lion and buffalo and it is this training he puts to great use as he guides us into the right positions to watch the action unfurl in front of us.
“Patience,” he says “just patience. When you are as patient as the lions, you get your reward and they get theirs.”
He’s too humble. In reality it’s more than this; it’s our patience but combined with Jackson’s years of experience and finely honed guiding skills.
About the author
One of the founders of Aardvark Safaris, Richard Smith comes from a background working in both Africa and travel. He spent the first ten years after university flitting between summers on a river somewhere in the world as a raft guide, videographer or canoe instructor, and winters in the Alps as a ski guide, or the operations manager for a ski company.
Having founded Aardvark Safaris with John Spence in 1999, Richard travelled intensively throughout Africa for a number of years before his children grew old enough to start asking why they weren’t invited. Since then he’s travelled with his wife and kids to Mauritius, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa. With a wide breadth of geographical knowledge (in Africa at least) and having arranged safari holidays over the years for many clients, Richard is a good person to talk to about almost all of the countries in Africa, no matter who you are or with whom you’re travelling www.aardvarksafaris.co.uk