Lunchtime For A Ravenous Lion Pride In Tanzania [PHOTOS]

baby lion

Photo: Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

Lions may be king of the Savannah, but on a recent press trip to Tanzania, most of the lions I saw were napping or lying in the shade, panting from the effort of digesting a recent meal.Then finally, in Ruaha National Park, the biggest national park in the country, I finally got to see some lions in action.

On the drive from the local airstrip to Mwagusi Tented Camp, where I would spend the night, our tour guide found a pride of lions picking the meat off a freshly killed zebra. Three young cubs wrestled nearby.

They were part of a pride the locals call Mbagi, said our guide, Samson. One of the females had killed the zebra just two hours earlier, and it was already nearly gone.

Disclosure: Our trip to Tanzania, including travel and lodging expenses, was sponsored by the Tanzania Tourist Board, Africa Adventure Company, Singita Grumeti Group, Coastal Aviation, Qatar Airways, Tanzania National Parks, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, and Wildlife Authority.

Near the end of the dry season, Ruaha National Park was incredible arid and felt barren for the first hour of our drive. But once we neared the Mwagusi River bed, we started to see some life.

Our safari vehicle turned a corner and suddenly, we were no more than 25 feet from a pride of lions, gorging on a freshly killed zebra.

A few feet away from the kill, three lion clubs played and wrestled.

The local guides refer to this group as the Mbagi pride.

It's one of 15 or so known prides in the park, each of which has around 10 lions.

The lion who had killed the zebra (left) stretched a paw across her prey in a sign of dominance.

The zebra had probably been dead just two hours, but was already almost picked clean.

The air smelled of flesh, but it wasn't anything rotten.

The pride kills for food every three or four days.

It's easier to find prey during the dry season, when animals must trek to the riverbeds to find water.

The pride also has two males, but they were nowhere to be found. The females are responsible for most of the kills.

Each pride has its own technique for killing, and will specialize in a particular kind of prey.

The three cubs were from two different litters. They were incredible to watch.

But the red blood staining their face and paws were a reminder that they were wild animals.

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