On safari-- wildlife and nature photos

Lioness by night
By night Click to enlarge
The lions of SelindaConfrontation ©Yvonne Milbank
Confrontation over a kill©Yvonne Milbank

One kind of beauty... LionessLionessLioness
A Selinda lioness relaxes-- as cats do-- against the backdrop of Zibadianja lagoon

...and another: Big feast Big feast Big feastBig feast
The pride with a windfall, an elephant which died of old age

These images document some of the fortunes and misfortunes of the Selinda pride in the early 2000s

Tough lions-- good times, hard times

Northern Botswana is great lion country. From 2000 to 2002, the Selinda pride numbered more than 20, the neighbouring Bridge pride was nearly as big

Royal escort ©Mike Bailey
Royal escort©Mike Bailey
Pride male by night

    Bridge pride male

2000 Selinda pride male

In 1999, a coalition of five big males took over the prides, siring nearly 30 cubs between them in the next two or three years. Film producer Dan Freeman gives an eyewitness account of this takeover in his book "Mangroves and Man-eaters: and Other Wildlife Encounters"

Lioness contemplates giraffe Zebra for dinner Making short work of a zebra Curious youngster Playful cubs Mother love Painful suckling

With plentiful large prey, such as zebra, buffalo and hippo, the prides flourished. But late in 2000, a bushfire brought tragedy to the Selinda pride. The lionesses were injured so badly that they could not feed their cubs...some of whom feature in the pictures above. All 14 youngsters starved to death. Read my account
"The Selinda pride- A baptism of fire"

One fine feast  'Limpy'- ©Yvonne Milbank  Injured nomad   Sick and sorry

The pride recovered-- and two years later, Yvonne and I were back to photograph the lionesses and their new batch of cubs. We saw them with the 'windfall' elephant carcass, a meal which enabled them to conserve their hunting energy for some days. Life wasn't drama-free. There was the cub who needed its mother's help to keep up, because of a badly gashed leg. And the nomad male who seemed to have come off second-best in a clash with the resident males

Good times   Good times   Good times  Cub yawning
Portraits in a stable pride

Nomad in cover
Intruder in cover

But tough times were just around the corner again. The resident males moved on, the two most experienced lionesses succumbed to old age, and there were many temporary intrusions by other males. Both the Selinda and Bridge prides seemed to fracture. By mid-2004, the Selinda pride had lost half its numbers, some moving off, some apparently dying

2004 pride male  Injured hunter   At death's door  Just two fit lionesses   Quenching thirst  Quenching thirst   Sibling affection ©Ian Stewart

Two new males attached themselves to the Selinda pride, though none of the cubs they sired survived. Then two of the four lionesses were injured when they tackled a lone buffalo, and the one most seriously hurt died four weeks later. Territorial battles with other lions soon saw the demise of the males, but some lionesses rejoined the group, so its strength was five when yet another coalition of males came on the scene in 2005

2005 pride male

Lions mating  Not all sweetness and light ©Yvonne Milbank   Lions mating  Lions mating  Euphoria or exhaustion?

In these pictures, two of the new males are seen mating with two of the lionesses. We saw these pairs mate as frequently as every eight minutes over a period of three or four days

Lioness assessing target   Lioness stalking  Lioness stalking  Lioness stalking waterbuck ©Yvonne Milbank

In pursuit of lechwe  Chasing waterbuck  Chasing lechwe

Lechwe kill ©Yvonne Milbank  Lechwe kill  Lechwe kill   Waterbuck kill  Waterbuck kill

The signs of some stability returning coincided with a time of plenty, as water creeping up the Selinda spillway attracted much game. In a single hunt, the lionesses take a red lechwe and a waterbuck. Birds scatter as three lionesses chase the lechwe on the fringe of the reedbeds and a single lioness pursues the waterbuck

Confrontation over a kill

Guarding a roan antelope kill  Roan antelope kill

Confrontation  Confrontation ©Yvonne Milbank  Heating up ©Yvonne Milbank  Heating up ©Yvonne Milbank   Keep off! ©Yvonne Milbank

Sisterly comfort    Lioness drinking   After-meal rest

While two lionesses were being courted, three others were taking a roan antelope on the edge of the spillway...and having their kill stolen by another male. They repeatedly tried to feed, but he was not willing to share the kill, even after eating his fill...so after consoling each other, the lionesses left him with the carcass and killed their own meal, a buffalo, not far away

Lion satiated  Wild dogs alert  Spillway life goes on

The lion stayed with the carcass for many hours, his full stomach quelling any interest he might otherwise have shown in the continuing life of the spillway. Elephants and other animals as usual came to drink, often in his full view, and a passing pack of wild dogs detected him and interrupted their hunt for some minutes before moving on

The dominance of this coalition was short-lived, too, and the fortunes of the Selinda pride seem to have remained at a low ebb for some time. At the start of 2012, the Selinda website reported on the "return" of the pride with a strength of 15

NEXT PAGE- Selinda's other major predators: Spots 'n' Blotches

Back to top

Where the photos were takenEquipment used at Selinda: Canon EOS1n and EOS5, with Canon 300/2.8 and 400/2.8 lens and extenders, 100-400 IS zoom lens, Canon 540 EZ and 580 EX flash; Fuji Sensia 100, Velvia (50 & 100 ISO), Provia 100F and 400F, and Agfa RSX II 200. Yvonne used a Canon EOS 1D Mark II with 100-400 IS lensThe Maplink on the left will show you where Selinda is. Go to the links below for more photographs from Africa and from Australia


  • Portfolio (5 pages)
  • African slideshows
  • Australian slideshow
  • Guest photographer
  • Spots 'n' blotches
  • Browsers & grazers
  • Okavango Delta
  • Walking in Zimbabwe
  • Zambia
  • The Outback (3 pages)
  • The River Murray
  • Wildlife carers
  • The Linyanti
  • Cheetah brothers
  • Selinda's birdlife
  • Masai Mara
  • Big cats
  • Faces on safari
  • The Adelaide Hills
  • Aussie birds
  • Niugini days
  • Lions of Selinda
  • Heavyweight herbivores
  • Kwando Reserve
  • Kenya:Samburu
  • Elephants
  • Kangaroo Island
  • Victoria
  • About Afrigalah
  • Links
  • Photo sales information


    © 2000-2013 Copyright photographs, graphics and text: John Milbank, except where otherwise denoted