Thursday, April 23, 2015

On Safari With Karen 22 April 2015

22 April 2015

We set of this morning before daybreak and our first few 100 meters were driven in twilight. As it scares animals away and focuses a human eye just on the lit area (and is incapable to look beyond) we were driving without lights. Suddenly an odd shape loomed on a road sign, and it turned out to be two leopard cubs!! No longer little cubs like we once saw them last year, they are now about the same size as their mum. The two cubs looked highly surprised to see us already, and the third one came looking curiously around the road sign.

Then suddenly a call from behind us and a reply from one of the cubs: Mum's here! The cubs jumped of the block and followed the one that was already meeting up with Mum. We turned our car and followed them back down the road. Mum didn't seem to mind our presence and walked in front, with the three cubs a few meters in front of us playing around and hopping along to keep up with mum.

When another car arrived from the opposite however with full beams on, Mum froze for a second and then swiftly moved into the bush calling the cubs. All three followed suit.

We decided to wait around a little and see the other car moving off and two more cars come and go. Then suddenly an alarm call. It sounded strange at first but then grew louder! A vervet monkey with a cold had woken up and gotten the scare of his life as he spotted the leopards. We backed up and just saw one of the leopards climbing down the tree again. She had obviously tried to sneak up on the monkey but the monkey was now sitting on the thinner branches on top of the tree and on top of that woke up its entire family.

A frenzy followed and then most monkeys slid of to one side. Three males kept standing guard and calling out. Very focused monkey eyes to a certain spot could tell us where the leopards were, even if we couldn't see them. It seemed to quiet down and then suddenly a yelp and a screaming monkey... Did one of them get caught?

We don't know. We didn't see the leopard or the monkey that screamed, the area was too thick with bush. But the vervet monkeys did become quiet for a few minutes and then the alarm was called again by just one of the males. We also heard some sounds which could have been the cubs, but it was difficult to hear over the calls of the vervet monkey. However, 10 minutes later even he gave up and sat down relaxing. 10 minutes after that nothing more had happened and we decided to move on. But what a great start of the day!!

Today we were also very lucky with seeing rhinos. All were white rhinos and most of them were further into the bush or half hidden in the grass. Nonetheless we could definitely see it were rhinos as we spotted their ears and horns. One sighting stood out however when we stumbled upon three white rhinos together. It looked like they just met as they were sniffing each other out. Guess they weren't that interested in each other though as two of them then crossed the road and started grazing on the other side of the road and one of them stayed behind. It was great to see those magnificent beasts up close.

Other interesting sightings: juvenile bateleur being attacked by fork-tailed drongos, and multiple times we saw full grown bateleurs flying over, a big bull elephant and some smaller bulls at different places, warthog, plenty of impalas, brown snake eagle, pretty kudu bulls, magpie shrikes, tree squirrel, guineafowls, green pigeons, zebras, many giraffes, a herd of buffalos and later some lone bulls, multiple sightings of a hyena, dung beetles, spider hunting wasps, banded mongooses, grey louries, lilac-breasted rollers, dwarf mongooses, and many bees which tried to steal our breakfast!

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