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


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Popular Botswana Safaris

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

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Chobe National Park - Savuti package

If seeing African elephants is on your travel bucket list, then the Chobe National Park should be right at the top...

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9-day Epic Botswana Adventure

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

 | Botswana Luxury Safari and Victoria Falls

Botswana Luxury Safari and Victoria Falls

Experience the paradise of Botswana and enjoy game viewing as well as exciting activities in Zambia ...

 | Botswana green season safari

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Experience three of Botswana's highlights – the Central Kalahari, Okavango Delta and Kwando Linyanti – wilderness areas that take you from arid desert to lush wetlands...

 | Victoria Falls and Chobe Safari

Victoria Falls and Chobe Safari

Encounter the smoke that thunders and explore the land of giants in the Chobe National Park...

 | Luxury Okavango Delta, Chobe and Victoria Falls Safari

Luxury Okavango Delta, Chobe and Victoria Falls Safari

Spent three nights at Chobe safari Lodge, two nights at Pom Pom Camp, two nights Moremi Crossing, as well as a full day visit to Victoria Falls...

Wildlife  | Big Five safari combining Moremi Game Reserve and Selinda Reserve

Ultimate Botswana safari

Explore Botswana's Moremi and Selinda reserves on foot, in a safari vehicle or a mokoro for unforgettable wildlife encounters with big game and rare birds...

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This Southern Africa safari adventure will take you to the tip of the African continent...

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