Lion kill from the air

Lion kill from the air

I recently spent a fantastic week flying over the Luangwa in John Coppinger’s (Remote Africa safaris) microlight and on one occasion was lucky enough to photograph a lion kill from the air. We were flying up the Mupamadzi river, a major tributary of the Luangwa, when we came across a pride of 15 lions hunting a herd of impala in the long grass beside the river. As we watched the impala got wind of the lions and ran for the bush with the lions in hot pursuit. Just when I thought they had all got away a yearling impala doubled back towards the river and jumped off a high bank into the water.

One lioness was quick to see this and ran along the top of the bank as the impala floundered in the water below her. As soon as the lioness was close she jumped down and after a short chase had killed the impala. The whole episode was over in a few seconds.

The lioness then ran into some nearby thickets carrying the impala and was quickly followed by the rest of the pride. We circled a few times overhead but it was impossible to see down into the dense bush. I could just imagine the chaos going on in there as they all fought over the kill.

Thinking that the action was over we flew on upstream for half an hour or so before returning to see if the lions had come back out into the open. Incredibly while we were away they had killed three Cookson’s wildebeest in and around the river! A wildebeest herd had obviously come down to drink and had been ambushed by the pride of lions hiding in the thick bush.

We returned to the scene in the afternoon and there was only one wildebeest carcass remaining and a pride of very fat looking lions spread out along the river bank…

Content Copyright Patrick Bentley Photography


  1. Hi Patrick

    I remember you telling me of this experience, amazing to see and captured so well!
    Love the Gnu blood flowing through the water + shadows, well done….this has to go in the book!

  2. Wow! The image of the kill in the water is so powerful. The shadows of the lions and the crimson flow of blood in the water, and that the lions seem unaware of your presence. A contender for Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012…?