The Stalker

Interesting animals sightings in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are a matter of luck and also timing. Earlier in the day a family of lions had strolled up onto a dune overlooking the Kij Kij waterhole (see Kgalagadi map here). Settling down on the top of the dune, between some shrubs they were just furry blobs which occasionally lifted a head to yawn or flicked a tail. Not too interesting to watch, and too far away to get good photos.

Late afternoon, Willie decided to go back and see if the lions were still there. They were just waking up from their daytime sleep and starting to get more active. And what better place to scout out a potential meal than right above a waterhole?


Sitting up and paying attention. In the foreground grass are two youngsters, with two more sitting just above them on the dune. The adults are right on top of the dune amongst the bushes. ©WMB/

The lions decide to take a closer look . . .


Two extremely nervous Gemsbok, looking in the direction of the lions. ©WMB/


The lions have moved down off the dune. How many can you spot in the grass? [Click on photo to enlarge] ©WMB/

One lioness takes on the role of “chief stalker” while we suspect that the other lions moved around the Gemsbok herd.


To give some perspective. The Gemsbok is a really large antelope. Look at the tree (with the forked trunk) to the upper right to see the an adult lioness peeking out. One only realises close up just how big adult lions are. ©WMB/


Zooming in to where the lioness is sitting. ©WMB/

_MG_0591 edit2

Zooming in further even more. ©WMB/


All the Gemsbok are by now facing the danger. ©WMB/


Peekaboo! The lioness has moved to “hide” behind a different tree. ©WMB/

The next four photos are of the lioness starting to do some serious stalking. Look at the intense concentration on her face.









Unfortunately, below is as close as Willie got to witnessing a full-on chase (although there were no signs of a kill near the waterhole the next morning). The sun was setting and he needed to still drive back to the camp some distance away. In the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (as is common in most game reserves), one has to be back in camp by sunset.



The photos in this post were taken in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park during August 2014.

See the most recent Kalahari posts here.

Also see: Kalahari Series I – 2009 and  Kalahari  Series II – 2011


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Categories: Nature/Environment, Photography


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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15 Comments on “The Stalker”

  1. October 27, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Oh wow! These photos are BRILLIANT! You really got close to the action with that zoom lens – is it the new 150-600 one? Well done, Willie!

    • October 30, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      Hi Reggie! As far as I know Willie was using his Tamron lens for these photos. Even with a zoom lens, it’s sometimes difficult to get good close-up shots in the Kgalagadi. There are still better photos to come! 🙂

      • October 30, 2014 at 10:18 am #

        I guess it’s not just the distances at which one has to shoot much of the time, but also because of the challenging terrain and the fact that animals are often very well camouflaged and hidden – unless you *know* they’re there and thus look more closely! What I also found difficult was that, when you’re on a game drive, the vibration of the vehicle makes it difficult to get a clean non-blurry shot. And if you’re in a group vehicle, you can’t always shout, “Hey, stop! I think there’s a small animal hiding in those bushes! Oh, and would you mind turning off the engine?” 🙂 I’m pleased to see you guys have been having fun in these beautiful wildlife parks, Lisa.

      • November 1, 2014 at 8:42 am #

        We mostly turn off the vehicle engine. Mainly because of the vibration and we tend to park in one spot for a while, but it’s also good to hear the bush noises.

      • November 1, 2014 at 8:48 am #

        Yes! I love that. Usually the official game drives only stop for a couple of minutes, and only when an animal has been sighted. I think that’s why you and Willie probably see far more wildlife.

  2. Eha
    October 27, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    This photo series is wonderful even if somewhat sad as the inevitability of survival of the fittest is so clearly on show . . . I know a zoom lens was in place but Willie must still have been closer to the lions than any of us would dare to go . . . thank you so much for giving us a ‘safe’ experience from our armchairs 🙂 ! How many lions were in sight on that photo ? – three in clear view but methinks that is too obvious . . .!!!!

    • October 30, 2014 at 9:38 am #

      Hi Eha! I’m glad you like the photos. Don’t worry about Willie though – he was safely in his vehicle at all times! In the harsh Kalahari conditions every day is a matter of life or death.

      Yes, you’re right – there were 3 lions in the photo. They do quite a good job of blending in, don’t they?

  3. Madoqua
    October 31, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    Wonderful photo captures and what a thrill to see the start of a hunt 🙂
    I got as far as Augrabies Falls NP on a very recent trip. Alas no sightings of big cats in the desert this time. Next trip will hopefully take me as far as Kgalagadi – you have me hooked!

    • November 1, 2014 at 8:39 am #

      Hi Madoqua! 🙂

      Thanks for your kind comment. As I said to Reggie, there are better and more exciting photos to come, so please come back again.

      Were you here for a vacation? I look forward to reading about some of your adventures on your travels through South Africa.

  4. November 2, 2014 at 1:43 am #

    Those lions really disappear into the grass: I could only count three. And the gemsbok are new to me. Thanks for lovely, lovely photos:)

    • November 10, 2014 at 6:54 am #

      Hi Sweffling – We can also only see 3 lions! 🙂 Although there might have been more – it was quite a big family group.

  5. Princess Brown
    September 14, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    Amazing. I will be honest. I live in Maryland and I can’t afford a vacation to anywhere and these photos make me feel as though I am right there so Thanks so much. They are Brilliant. I can’t wait to see more :0)

  6. December 19, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    Fantastic Lisa. I might tag along for awhile to see more.



    • December 20, 2016 at 5:54 am #

      Hi Frank! Thank you for your kind comment. If you visit my homepage, you can see links to my most recent series – our trips to Namibia and the Kruger National Park.

      • December 20, 2016 at 5:56 am #

        I’ll do that Lisa.



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