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A rough diamond

The remote Ruaha National Park, in central Tanzania, offers an outstanding opportunity to see carnivores, in a beautiful and diverse landscape of grasslands, mountains, rivers and swamps. Geoffrey Dean explores this vast wilderness

The pride was in no hurry as its eight members padded along the dirt track near the Great Ruaha River one late aft ernoon in March. The lush grass, several metres high after the rainy season, was glistening from a shower, which was why the two lionesses, five cubs and one male were taking the road. Hunting was not immediately on their agenda. They were relaxed, ambling slowly along, while the cubs — five to six months old — sauntered playfully, stopping occasionally to drink from puddles. We continued to follow them, until about 2km (and 45 minutes) later they finally branched off the path and headed into the bush.

Red lipstick. You may be lucky enough to observe lionesses hunting — this is big cat territory
Credit: Nick Greaves

Observing them on the move for so long had been very special, all the more so because it had been just them and us: my driver and I. Ruaha National Park’s remoteness and size are two of its main draws; you are unlikely to come across many other people and you will certainly not encounter clusters of vehicles. What you will see is: lion. The park and its surrounding ecosystem are thought to have the biggest population in Africa. Dr Amy Dickman, who has overseen the Ruaha Carnivore Project since founding it in 2009, estimates that in Ruaha and its neighbouring game reserves there are around 2000, representing some 10 per cent of the world’s lion.

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About Travel Africa

Transfixed by Ethiopia • Lake Kariba • Kolmanskop, Namibia's ghost town • South Africa on a shoestring • Looking for lemurs in Madagascar • Kenya's keepers of the wild • Why Bengweulu is so bewitching • Remote Ruaha • Sail away to St Helena • Chimps in Uganda • Picture-perfect Tuli... and much more!
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