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Unwelcome Puff Adder at Lion Kill

Derick Moll
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Unwelcome Puff Adder at Lion Kill

Our photo of the week is an incredible sighting of an unwelcome puff adder at a lion kill. The venomous snake can be seen curled up inside the Cape buffalo carcass while the pride of lions, including four cubs, continue their meal.

Our guiding team thinks that the snake was trying to keep warm inside the carcass. It remained in place, surrounded by the lions, as they ate their kill. "No one at the reserve has ever seen anything like it," commented Kariega head guide Wayne Howarth. 

The fantastic images were taken by safari guest Derick Moll while on safari at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa's Eastern Cape. Derick kindly shared his images and insights of this once-in-a-lifetime sighting.

Unwelcome Puff Adder at Lion Kill

"During the Easter weekend I had an amazing experience during a late afternoon, early evening game drive on Kariega Game Reserve with senior guide, Craig Brown. Craig told us about a pride of lions that had killed a buffalo the night before and would probably be back at the carcass to continue feeding that night.

On the way to the possible sighting of the lions we stopped at Gorah dam where a group of elephants was having a night time swim. Although it was dark our guide lit up the scene with a spotlight and we were able to watch the elephants splashing around in the water, dunking each other and generally just having fun. It was wonderful to watch and to hear the sounds of their boisterous play, water splashing and the clashing of tusks. Some of the guests were rather concerned that some of the youngsters were deliberately trying to “drown” their mates!"

Safari Guest Photographs Puff Adder at Lion Kill

"We then moved to where the buffalo carcass had been seen earlier in the day. As we approached we could see the lions feeding on the carcass. There were two large males, two females and four cubs. However, as we got closer some of the guests saw an odd-looking object inside the rib-cage of the buffalo carcass. I then noticed this too and being familiar with South African snakes immediately recognised it as a rather large puff adder. Well, there it was, stretched out along the backbone of the carcass and peering through an opening at the top of the rib-cage. My reaction and that of the other guests was one of absolute amazement and awe at this unique sighting. None of us, including our very experienced guide, Craig, had ever seen anything like it.

Unwelcome Puff Adder at Lion Kill

As I took some photographs the group sat in silent amazement. The lions continued feeding and neither they nor the puff adder seemed to be concerned with the others’ presence.

Unwelcome Puff Adder at Lion Kill

It was obvious, however, that the puff adder and the lions were very well aware of each other. Once, and only half-heartedly, did the puff adder strike at one of the cubs when it started gnawing on one of the ribs quite close to where the puff adder was resting its head. The cub very easily evaded this strike and continued feeding, unperturbed.

Unwelcome Puff Adder at Lion Kill

To add to the excitement a group of elephants arrived, trumpeting loudly, tusking (digging their tusks into the ground) and chased the lions away. The elephants were so close to our vehicle that their frenzy and obvious irritation with the lions caused them to throw up clouds of dust which the slight breeze deposited on us! We did not let this worry us as we were simply too enthralled with what was happening.

The lions, respectfully I imagine, retreated for about fifty metres. The puff adder remained in the carcass and only moved its position slightly, at one stage almost curling up.

Unwelcome Puff Adder at Lion Kill

The elephants got bored after a while and moved off, allowing the lions to return to the carcass and continue feeding.

We must have spent almost an hour watching this amazing and unique scene before we left it with the lions still at the carcass. What a wonderful privilege and how blessed we were to have experienced this. I would like to thank Kariega Game Reserve and our guide, Craig Brown, for creating the opportunity to have been part of this hugely interesting and awe-inspiring experience."

Puff Adder and Lion Images Submitted to Wildlife Photo Competition

Derick entered these photographs into the 2021 Kariega Facebook Wildlife Photo Competition which closes on 30 April 2021. The annual competition includes two categories: best wildlife photograph and Facebook audience favourite wildlife photograph.

During May our panel of judges, which includes senior guide and talented wildlife photographer Brendon Jennings, will set about the onerous task of selecting the wildlife photo competition finalists. Once we have decided on the finalists, join our Facebook community to vote for their favourite wildlife photo by ‘liking it’ in our album.

If you are interested in visiting Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa's malaria-free Eastern Cape please contact us to enquire about pricing and specials.

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