The wilderness at work: Etosha National Park

A safari in Africa is a special event. It’s not every day that you see some of the world’s most impressive animals in the wild. So seeing the gates of Namibia’s Etosha national park made me very excited. Just driving into the park, towards our camp, we saw lions bathing in the sun, zebras and giraffes.

The camp ground could be called a village. It’s got everything you need, including a pool, bar, restaurant and shop. I think this was the most luxurious place I’ve stayed at in Namibia, even though it was just camping. Our ‘village’ also had a waterhole, so at night we could do some animal spotting nearby.

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After several game drives we hit the jackpot. There was a row of cars, an Etosha traffic jam, which could only indicate something was going on. We happily joined in and saw a waterhole. A whole bunch of lions lay on the dry grass. They were in hunting mode. I didn’t even see them yet, but the lions had their eyes locked on a group of springboks.

Slowly a springbok came closer to the water, eating the Savannah grass. The lions moved their noses into that direction and lay flat on the ground. Us spectators got really excited at this point. We waited and waited, but nothing happened. We stayed, waited, and were rewarded. Suddenly the lions turned around. A gemsbok had come to the waterhole, but all our eyes were pointed towards the springboks and we hadn’t even seen it.

Luckily the lions were paying attention and when the gemsbok took its first sip of the fresh water, the lions attacked. Three lions sprinted towards the helpless animal and in a matter of seconds they tore the bok into pieces. The rest of the lions joined in for a feast. I saw a bloody spectacle and bloody paws and mouths carried bloody pieces across the yellow land.

One lion got hold of the head, found a little corner, and started eating his snack. Another lion seemed to have gotten a prime piece, because his mate started fighting him for it. For a while they were rolling around, until the winner took its prize and the loser tore off another piece of what remained of the bok. On our way out of the park we saw another traffic jam. Immediately we thought of the lions. This time, they were just lying in the grass. We’d become spoilt tourist.

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