Thursday, October 29, 2015

On Safari With Gert From 26 October 2015

26 October 2015

Leaving early for our morning drive, we set out in rather hot sunny conditions, which soon changed as some clouds rolled in. This made for some good game viewing conditions as it remained cloudy throughout the morning.

We were soon rewarded with a fairly quick leopard sighting. We saw it walking away from us along a game trail and eventually out of sight. Not long after, we found a Spotted Hyena sleeping in a drainage line close to the road.

After our morning coffee break, we continued to a nearby waterhole where we were in for quite a treat.

On arrival we saw a female White Rhino with 2 calves of different ages, the younger just over a year old. They were looking very alert and staring at 6 lionesses lying under a tree a few meters away. As the Rhino moved towards the waterhole, one or two lions also got uneasy and they made sure they kept a very close eye on each other. We noticed 2 more lionesses and a young male to make it 9 lions, however they are most likely part of a bigger pride.. As if seeing Rhino and Lion share a waterhole was not enough, a large elephant bull approached for a drink and a mud bath. On his approach the bull startled 2 more spotted hyena which were hiding in their burrow and they made a hasty escape! After his mud bath the elephant stood facing the lions, turning the tip of his trunk to catch their scent, the lions in turn trying to look as disinterested as possible. The elephant then walked off, surprisingly leaving them in peace, but what a fantastic moment to have 3 of the big 5 and hyena together!

27 October 2015

We set out early with the bush refreshed after a night of heavy rain. As it was still overcast, with bouts of light drizzle it was actually very good game drive weather and we set out with the hope of finding some predators in the cool conditions.

However the morning started off with a couple of big herds of Buffalo and a breeding herd of elephant.

Our first predator sighting of the day was when we found a couple of spotted hyena lying close to one of their den sites. They were very relaxed and struggling to keep their eyes open, not really doing much at all...

Afterwards we followed up on some leads about wild dogs and Lion in the area, but to no avail...

After our morning coffee break, we decided to extend our morning drive and continued our search. It paid off when we found 2 mating pairs of lion approximately 2 km apart! The first pair was sleeping about 30 meters off the road, very flat, but out in the open. The second pair we found were right next to the road; taking a break from the mating, but lying close together, offering great photo opportunities. We sat watching them for about 20 min, but eventually left the sighting without actually seeing them mate, as it was time to move on.

After our lunch break on the way out of the park we were also lucky enough to complete our big 5 for the day, when we spotted a large male leopard lounging on a termite mound. At first he was lying very flat and all we could really see was his white belly and sides. We stuck around for a while though and he eventually got up to change position, offering us a very good view. He got comfortable again and we left with him still lying on the mound - a fitting end to another very successful day!

28 October 2015

After loading luggage, we set out for a final morning drive. First up we encountered a troop of Vervet Monkeys with many very small babies. I have only started noticing the new babies in the last few days, so most of them are only a few days old! It was very interesting to watch them hanging on for dear life to their mothers' bellies as the adults continue with their normal daily lives, up and down trees with the little ones hanging on.

We also saw a breeding herd of elephant with a very small baby crossing the road in front of our vehicle.

Not much further we saw a herd of Sable Antelope, one of the rarest mammal species in Kruger Park! They were in the bush and very skittish, but we did get some decent views of some of the adult females and their young.

The highlight of our morning was when we came across a large congregation of vultures at least 80 of them of various species. Several of them had very full gullets and we're covered in dried blood. We could not see what they had fed on or any predators, bit it was evident that they had just finished their feast. There was a small stream nearby and some of the vultures had already washed themselves and were sprawled on the ground or perched with their wings open to dry off. We noticed some fresh lion tracks in the road where the vultures were, but did not find the lions. The majority of the vultures were White-backed, but we also saw some Lappet-faced and 4 Cape Vultures, much larger and paler than the White-backed Vulture!

Shortly before exiting the park we caught a quick glimpse of a leopard which had been stalking Impala. The Impala, along with some Kudu, had spotted it and was sounding the alarm and not taking their eyes of the Leopard, following it to make sure they know where it is going, which helped us to see it. We watched as it crossed a clearing and disappeared into a drainage line, a nice highlight to top off 4 days of safari!

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