“We realized that this was a game to them.”
Ulrico Grech-Cumbo and his team were in Kenya’s Maasai Mara recording the annual wildebeest migration when they stumbled upon a tiny pride of three lionesses and their pups.
The team felt it was the ideal moment to photograph the lion family in their natural surroundings since the lions were blissfully resting in the sun. However, one lioness had other ideas.
“Lions are nocturnal,” Ulrico Grech-Cumbo, CEO of Habitat XR, a company that makes virtual wildlife experiences, told The Dodo. “They are normally more energetic and forceful during the night; during the day, they become lazy for hours on end.” “We debated whether the advantage of recording sleeping lions was worth the risk, and we ultimately determined that it was.”
Near the group of wild cats, the crew set up a 360-degree virtual reality camera and sound recording equipment, but they seemed uninterested. The film team backed their truck out, certain that they had gone unobserved. They quickly understood, however, that they were mistaken in believing that nothing could escape the gaze of a lioness.
“Within seconds, the alpha female recognized the strange-looking thing and perked up,” Grech-Cumbo explained. “She stood up and approached the camera with caution, accompanied by her sister. My body was immediately gripped with terror, having previously seen lions inspect our cameras.”
Grech-Cumbo realized their shot was in jeopardy when the alpha began pawing at the tripod’s base.
“Lions are inherently curious and possessive, and they frequently steal something that someone or something else desires,” Grech-Cumbo added. “We ultimately approached, but by doing so, we triggered her instincts, and she went ahead and committed the heist!”
As the crew pursued the lioness, she buried her teeth into the camera and began dragging it away. “As we observed $10,000 worth of equipment being carted through the thickets, my heart plummeted,” Grech-Cumbo recalled.
Grech-Cumbo recognized she was playing with them as she followed the lioness through the bushes.
“We understood they’d go ahead of us, lay the rig down, and wait for us to catch up before setting out again,” Grech-Cumbo explained. “They did it three times before we recognized they were playing a game.”
The chase may be seen here:
The closer the camera team pursued the lioness, the faster she fled, causing damage to the camera. When the lioness had had enough of the game, the film team discovered their equipment in shattered bits.
“Our 360 [degree] cameras are made up of ten distinct lenses, the majority of which are fractured or scratched beyond repair,” says the company “Grech-Cumbo said the following. “All of the wires were eaten through, and the tripod was ripped in three pieces.”
Fortunately, some of the SD cards survived, allowing them to record a movie of their one-of-a-kind encounter with the lionesses – as well as a caution to other film crews who misjudge a group of lionesses.