For those of you reading this in the UK, I am hoping that you watched ITV’s Lion Country: Night and Day, on Sunday evening and for those of you that haven’t. Why on earth not? I strongly suggest that you do so, on catch up as soon as possible. For those of you that live outside of the UK, find a way to watch it, legally of course. You will not be disappointed.
This three-part documentary follows two prides in the northern sector of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. An area I know very well as I spent a number of years guiding in this wild, remote and unspoilt part of the park at Shenton Safaris Kaingo Camp. The majority of the filming took place in the immediate area surrounding the camp and sightings of both prides were and still are, a daily occurrence.
The two prides that the documentary follows are The Mwamba Kaingo Pride and the Hollywood pride. Both have a very special place in my heart, as over the years spent with them, they created memories that my guests and myself will remember for the rest of our lives. One such instance I have already written about here.
As well as the large number of Lion filmed for the documentary, the area also boasts a vast number of leopard, that like the lions are seen on a regular basis. During my time spent in the far reaches of the South Luangwa, I came to know and recognise twelve individual leopards, all of whom made my job as a safari guide incredibly easy. But two stood out from the rest, two that were featured in the documentary. Malaika and Chiphadzuwa. A monther and daughter, who’s journey I followed on a daily basis over a two-year period.
From first seeing Chiphadzuwa as a three-month-old cub, playing with her mother’s tail, without a care in the world, to making her first kill and to the heart wrenching battles for dominance with her own mother. She stole my heart and I was thrilled to see that she is thriving as a fully independent leopard.
The Mwamba Kaingo Pride have gone through a very unsettled period over the past few years. With the loss of their dominant male, Ringo, who lost his life in an epic battle with a buffalo, click here for the full story. They spend much of 2015 in limbo, with many males moving in and out of the area, but none managing to stake a claim on the territory. But as the documentary reveals, a coalition of three brothers have now made the area surrounding Kaingo Camp their home.
The Punks, a brother hood of three very scraggy looking males, hence the name, whom I only came across one in my time there. They had managed to take down a hippo, on the boarder of the Mwamba Kaingo pride’s territory and once they had consumed the meal, made their escape. But now they are back and seem to be doing very well indeed.
The Hollywood pride, who occupy a territory just north of Kaingo Camp, who’s boarders slightly overlap with that of the Mwambia Kaingo pride are known for the two fantastic looking males that reign over them. These brothers have been in charge of the area for a number of years now. Fathering numerous cubs which have provided great entertainment for many visitors over the years.
However, it is not just the big cats and predators that this beautiful area has to offer. The Luangwa river acts as a life line to all that live within its reaches. Drawing in a range of game, that for me is unrivalled anywhere in Africa, from the mighty elephant to the humble elephant shrew. From the Marshal eagle to the Carmine Bee Eater. All call this place home and make it my all-time favourite safari destination.
So make sure you catch episode 2 which will be shown on Sunday 12th at 2000 UK time.
Oh, and the scenery isn’t bad either.
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