Zambia's Top Wildlife Moments of 2019

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As we come to the end of 2019, we're looking back at the wild and wonderful moments that have left guests and guides speechless across Zambia.

From leaping lions to squashed crocodiles, here are Zambia's top wildlife moments of 2019.

1. An unlikely friendship

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This young hippo and hyena were spotted playing on the banks of the Luangwa River. First seen smelling each other from a distance, the pair later touched noses before playing in the warmth of the rising sun.

Moment by Shenton Safaris in South Luangwa National Park.

2. Hunger strikes in the Kafue

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This hungry male lion was seen taking down a female puku in a dramatic hunt, witnessed by guests on their morning game drive - busting the long-standing myth that male lions don't hunt.

Moment by Jeffery & McKeith in Kafue National Park.

3. You've otter be kidding me!

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Imagine waking up to this - a pair of African clawless otters fishing on the Kafue River. An incredibly rare sighting made even more special by the morning light.

Moment by KaingU Safari Lodge in Kafue National Park.

4. Four species and a funeral

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Crocs, hippos, lions and one unlucky buffalo made for an extraordinary sighting in South Luangwa National Park. The lions and hyenas fought over the buffalo carcass whilst the hippos mourned from the sidelines.

Moment by Remote Africa Safaris (Tafika Camp) in South Luangwa National Park.

5. Walking with painted wolves

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This peaceful moment was submitted by camp owner Grant Cumings who sat down with his family during a walking safari to observe a pack of wild dogs playing in front of them. Does it get any better than this?

Moment by Chiawa Safaris (Puku Ridge Camp) in South Luangwa National Park.

6. One spectacular leap

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Wilderness Safaris' guide Isaac Kalio came across this exceptional sighting while on a boat safari with guests in Kafue National Park. He was able to anticipate the lioness’s next move, quickly steadying his camera in time to capture the lioness making a bold leap across the channel.

Moment by Wilderness Safaris in Kafue National Park.

7. Lion Pride vs. Buffalo Herd

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Guests in Zambia's Lower Zambezi National Park recently captured a tense standoff between a pride of hungry lions and a herd of brave buffalo.

Moment by Royal Zambezi Lodge in Lower Zambezi National Park.

8. The hippo-phant

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This year, a young hippo called "Sox" (named after his pink socks) has moved in with a family of rescued elephants at The Elephant Cafe in Livingstone. The hippo-phant sleeps and eats with the herd, and even plays in the Zambezi with the young elephants.

Moment by The Elephant Cafe in Livingstone.

9. Talk about a flat dog...

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This crocodile, or "flat dog", was bizarrely found crushed underneath a 3-tonne elephant in Lower Zambezi National Park. We can only speculate as to what happened!

Moment by Zambezi Grande in Lower Zambezi National Park.

10. Never trust a tree with a big hole

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Never trust a tree with big hole: A lesson guests recently learned whilst on safari in South Luangwa National Park. The female leopard was spotted emerging from the hole of a dead tree where her cubs could be heard squealing - explaining her protective snarls at onlookers.

Moment by Kafunta Safaris in South Luangwa National Park.

11. Risk it for a biscuit

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A huge Nile Crocodile is one of the world’s most fearsome predators, so it takes a lot of nerve, and some quick reactions, to steal its evening meal. One stealthy, hungry cat decided to risk at least one of its nine lives to share in the feast!

Moment by The Bushcamp Company in South Luangwa National Park.

12. A leaping leopard

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Amazing photo, perfectly timed, by guide and photographer Tayla McCurdy. On this particular afternoon, Anabezi guests spotted 5 different individuals including this spectacular leaping leopard.

Moment by Anabezi Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park.

13. Who's laughing now?

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Green Safaris' guides, Jo and Lexon, came across a pack of wild dogs taunting a lone hyena in Kafue National Park. Such an incredible sighting!

Moment by Green Safaris in Kafue National Park.

14. Night drive success!

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Potato Bush Camp guide, Charles Tembo, was overjoyed to find this very rare and elusive aardvark on a night drive in Lower Zambezi National Park. Aardvarks are notoriously shy and private animals, making them very difficult to spot in the wild.

Moment by Potato Bush Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park.

15. Proflight airlifts baby elephant to safety

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After being orphaned, this one-year-old elephant, named Olimba Mtima (meaning strong heart), was airlifted by Proflight from Mfuwe to Lusaka to start her new life at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery. She was even given her own boarding pass!

Moment by Proflight Zambia.

16. Fun-loving baby elephant

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Elephants love to play, and this little one is no exception. Elephants will often roll around in the dusk to keep themselves cool. It's also great for keeping the bugs at bay!

Moment by Sausage Tree Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park.

17. Elephant empathy in action

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This is the heartbreaking moment a herd of elephants try to save a Zebra foul from five lionesses. Witnessing a kill on safari can be both sad and fascinating - watching nature unfold in front of you.

Moment by Lion Camp in South Luangwa National Park.

18. A wise choice for safari-goers

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Where better to unwind and reflect on your wildlife moments than at Waterberry Lodge. It's the perfect place to spot birds on the Zambezi River, just 12 miles upstream from Victoria Falls.

Photo by Waterberry Lodge in Livingstone.

19. Up close with a pangolin

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And last, but by no means least, the critically endangered pangolin, captured beautifully by Konkamoya Lodge in Kafue National Park. Have you ever seen one up close?

Moment by Konkamoya Lodge in Kafue National Park.