Who is the real King of Beasts?

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Our last afternoon/evening game drive turned out to be one of the most entertaining.  It is best described by my friend and travel companion Augie, who was in the Land Rover with me, my sister and his wife Teresa for the fun.  This is how he tells it:

Who reigns supreme in the jungle or, in this case,  the Savanna Game
Reserve? Well, we found out on last evening’s game drive.

We had been requesting our ranger Patrick and tracker Julius to find us male
lions, which in my opinion were the last on the must-see list in our four days
of drives here.  We resigned ourselves that despite to the fact that the Savanna
reserve has an area known as cheetah flats, there were no signs of the fastest
animal on earth and there haven’ been in some time, according to our guide.
Cheetahs are more prevalent in the flat, expansive Serengeti where they can
utilize their tremendous speed to make their kills.

Patrick and Juluis aimed to please, and the land rover was moving  at a
serious clip after an hour into the evening drive,  which so far was pleasant
but not especially exciting. I was getting giddy seeing the countless impala
grazing along the roadside. maybe so had Patrick. He had stopped and picked up a
tortoise for a playful photo-op.  We naturally discovered a hare, the tortoise’s
renown literary opponent,  several kilometers ahead in the road.

“Something must be up,” Laura  surmised as Patrick put the pedal to the
metal. “I hope it is the male lions.”. The ranger and tracker kept silent,
saying they had another surprise in store.

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Here comes trouble. A bull elephant – in musth – with a chip on his shoulder. Look out.

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We were the third group to come upon three large male lions napping in the
afternoon, and it turns out we were in the right place at the right time.  A
fourth kingly male lion was sleeping alone, not faraway from the trio in tall
grasses.  We drove over to  him when we saw the lone lion raise his head. Any
activity on the  part of a male big cat is a photographic opportunity not to be
missed.

While those photos were being taken, we noticed a large bull elephant
striding through the tall grasses with a land rover full of guests in careful
pursuit.  This was the same bull in “must” from the day before. He had blocked
the road and was showing an instigating behavior which made Patrick and Julius very leery.  The bull seemed to know that the groups ahead in the green land rovers, including us, were observing something important and he wanted to clear the area for himself.

The elephant made a beeline for the solitary lion but ran past him when he
noticed the three other brother lions being lazy and napping without so much as a stir. Then, in what we all believe was a premeditated act, the bull pivoted
after running  behind the same tree that was providing shade for the nonchalant brother cats. The riled up pachyderm defiantly shook the tree with his trunk.

The violent shaking scared at least half dozen lives out of the supposedly Kings
of the bush.  The male lions leaped out of their sleep and took off at a frenzied
pace right past us and were quickly out of sight.  We couldn’t find them the
rest of the afternoon.

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Those three mighty lions looked like ordinary snoozing house cats displaced
by a nemesis Great Dane.
Patrick turned to his guests, with a big grin, and proclaimed, “I guess you
now know who is the REAL king of the jungle.”
We became loyal subjects of the bull elephant and retreated from his
kingdom.

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POSTSCRIPT — Teresa has begun using her video feature on Canon digital 35 mm
camera.  Too bad she didn’t think fast enough and shot video of the elephant
outsmarting the male lions because it who uld have gotten a million hits once we
posted it on You Tube.  Maybe next time, we will see something that we can video
and have it go viral.

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