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Life in the Serengeti

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A lioness slowly crept forward through the long Serengeti grass. Each move was carefully calculated to minimize the chance of detection.

A herd of zebras grazed among the acacias two hundred yards away from where the lioness lurked. The herd was gradually working its way to the watering hole just across the road at the edge of the trees.

The lion knew she was in a bad position. She had too much open ground between her and the herd. Zebras are much faster than a lion, meaning the big cat would have to get within twenty yards without being noticed to have a chance.

As time wore on, the lioness tried to improve her position one step at a time. She almost slithered across the earth, her belly rubbing the dirt. Her dusty brown color provided camouflage as she remained hidden amidst the grass stalks and small bushes.

The zebras continued to eat the grass and the leaves of the thorntrees, wattles and whistling acacias. They gathered in small groups of two, three and four for defensive purposes. The zebras often stood next to each other each facing in opposite directions. They were especially wary near the watering hole, where predators frequently struck at thirsty prey.

As the late afternoon heat beat down on her corner of the park, the lioness seemed impatient. She took a few more steps, listened, and peered intensely at the herd.

A second lioness peaked out of the tall bushes to the rear of the herd. She had quietly edged her way down the back of the field and then turned toward the herd, settling twenty yards closer to the watering hole than the first lioness. The two lions were working in tandem.

So far, the zebras had detected nothing. Their leader stepped onto the road and scouted the pond. The rest of the herd slowly followed suit. Soon a half dozen stripped creatures were sipping water, looking up after each drink. More and more of the herd found their way to the water. Their tails were swatting at flies and other insects. There was orderly chaos as the zebras bumped into each other coming and going from the water.

The lions continued to survey the scene from the grassland about one hundred yards away. They each were selecting a target.

Then, in a flash, the zebras exploded into action, racing in all directions away from the water. A lioness had been detected. Both gave chase, racing toward the herd. The lions barreled into the cloud of dust left in the wake of the screaming and sprinting Zebras.

The lions came up empty and the zebras regrouped deeper in the trees. Shaken by the attack, they cackled loudly, brayed and barked.

The two lions, resigned to defeat, joined each other under a tree. They comforted one another with a nudge of the nose and a lick. They then laid down to rest their bulky frames. The lions were hungry, but dinner would have to wait.

Such is life in the Serengeti.