The marsh lion pride of Botswana

An aerial view of a pride of lion

Throughout Africa, elephants are not thought of as lion prey, with only three exceptions; the pride manages to separate a small calf from its mother (a rare occurrence), an elephant is very sick and weak, or the lion belongs to Savuti’s notorious Marsh Pride. This fearless pride of lions, which once numbered 30 +, killed 74 elephants during a three year period (1993 – 1996), a phenomenon recorded by filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert. The Joubert’s film, Ultimate Enemies (National Geographic) tells the story, as well as the more recent Planet Earth Series: Great Plains (BBC). This outrageously risqué behavior on the part of the lions happens mainly between August and November, peaking in October. According to scientist Richard John Powder, the lions may be reverting to a role they once had during the Pleistocene era as hunters of megaherbivores. The behavior could also be rooted in Savuti’s long history of drought periods where near-starved elephants were easy to bring down, helping the lions hone their elephant-killing tactics. The introduction of artificial waterholes could have also played a role by encouraging elephants to become permanent residents (rather than migrating to other regions), and so readily available to feed unusually large lion prides. Today, the lion prides of Chobe are more fragmented and lions prey on elephant less frequently, but the legacy remains.

Lion basking in the sun


Popular Botswana Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

Boating on the Chobe River | Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

Visit Livingstone, Zambia, to marvel at the Victoria Falls – or 'the smoke that thunders' – before going on safari and a river cruise in Botswana's Chobe National Park...

Camp fire | Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

This three-in-one journey will show you the majestic Victoria Falls, the massive elephant bulls of Chobe and the natural wonder that is the Okavango Delta...

 | Photographic tour of Botswana (10 days)

Photographic tour of Botswana (10 days)

Let us take you one the adventure of a lifetime through the Chobe National Park, Khwai Community Area and Moremi Game Reserve. ...

 | Botswana Big Five Safari (7 days)

Botswana Big Five Safari (7 days)

Encounter the extraordinary herd of elephants and other species that will make your safari remarkable in the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve ...

 | Epic Botswana Adventure (9 days)

Epic Botswana Adventure (9 days)

A tour de force of the Chobe, Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Pans in only nine days...

 | Wild Botswana and Zimbabwe Safari (10 days)

Wild Botswana and Zimbabwe Safari (10 days)

Tour the pristine habitats of Botswana and Zimbabwe's finest wildlife-rich assets with the twist of refined luxury...

 | Best of Botswana and South Africa (11 days)

Best of Botswana and South Africa (11 days)

Experience the best of two of southern Africa's gems ...

 | Highlights of Northern Botswana (8 days)

Highlights of Northern Botswana (8 days)

Experience two of Botswana's best safari destinations; the Savute region and Okavango Delta ...

 | Pangolin Photography Tour of Botswana (7 days)

Pangolin Photography Tour of Botswana (7 days)

Immerse yourself in the wildlife and stunning natural beauty of the Chobe riverfront and pristine Okavango Delta as you capture nature's most spectacular beauty...

 | Camping in Moremi Game Reserve (5 days)

Camping in Moremi Game Reserve (5 days)

Watch the Okavango Delta come alive with the sounds of bird calls, the roar of lions in one of the most beautiful reserves in Botswana...



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