Global Planan

Danny Lam: Science Communicator, Traveller, Photographer

The Apex Predator

“We watch in silence but excitement, knowing that we are about to witness one of the most heart-stopping sites to be found in the wild”


The lioness stands poised and ready to pounce on an unsuspecting puku, a deer-like creature found in Africa. She digs her strong powerful hind legs into the soft soil as she lowers herself closer to the dirt. From here the thick grass hides her, and her golden brown coat makes her even more difficult to see among the dried grass.

We watch this spectacular sight from hundreds of meters away through a pair of powerful binoculars, gifted to us by our driver. We stare in silence but excitement, knowing that we are about to witness one of the most heart-stopping sites to be found in the wild.

Abruptly our four-wheel drive thunders to life and we speed towards the lioness. As it does so the powerful machine kicks up a dust storm of orange smoke. I raise my scarf over my mouth; hoping not to inhale and dirt. Our group leader is eager to give us a better view of the kill.

In the vehicle we, the half a dozen passages, are thrown and bounced around violently smashing into the cars metallic bulky frame as well as each other. But we do not care. We plead with the driver to go faster and faster; we are determined not to miss this show. Even if we are to return to camp with a few extra bruises.

The distance between us and the lioness rapidly closes. She is now only several meters away.

As we approach, her ear twitches towards our direction. She knows we are here. But she gives us no attention; and why should she…after all she is the apex predator and us mere spectators and outsiders in this wild environment.

From here we see the muscular frame of her powerful hind legs, the flicker of her tongue as she breathes and her determined stare. A stare that is transfixed on the poor unsuspecting animal.

The puku raises its long slender neck as it chews the grass it has gathered. It surveys the scene. It looks in the lioness’s direction…then lowers its head and continues to eat, a foolish mistake.

The lioness strikes.

Her hind legs kick off the ground with inconceivable power; hurling her upper body towards the prey with phenomenal speed. Her front legs catch the fall as her rear legs move forwards to meet them; allowing her to spring off from the dirt once again.

However, the puku is faster and has already made a hasty retreat, bounding high into the air and away from the predator. The chase continues for less than a minute until the lioness admits her defeat. She slows her run to a walk and turns to look in our direction, before collapsing into the dirt.

We draw out cameras slowly, hoping not to startle the beast, and take our photos.

%d bloggers like this: