Monday, January 11, 2016

On Safari With Gert 8 January 2016

8 January 2016

After yesterday's hot and humid 40+ degrees, we awoke to a light drizzle and a cool, overcast morning - a welcome change indeed!

We had an early breakfast and then set out for our game drive just after 6:00.

Our first sighting of the day was very high on the guests' wish list; giraffe, in this case 2 adult females and 2 calves. One of the adults was browsing very close to the road and we could see in detail how she used her long prehensile tongue, pulling the leadwood branches into her mouth to strip off the leaves.

Shortly after that we also found 2 bull elephants feeding close to the road, one of them very relaxed right next to us, again a good opportunity to observe their feeding habits, shaking the sand off every clump of grass before putting it in his mouth in order to preserve those molars...

Next up was a large bull White Rhino, also having breakfast and marking territory by spraying his very pungent urine on bushes at regular intervals and scraping his hind feet through it - providing us with some good views in the process before moving deeper into the bush and out off sight.

The highlight of the day came in the form of 2 lion sightings, only about 2 km apart.

These could also have been members of the same pride, just spread out slightly, as we also heard others calling in the distance. The first lot we got; a young male and 4 young females looked like they could have been siblings as they were all sub-adult, not quite fully grown, very relaxed lying about 4m off the road. We could not have asked to see them much better than that as they were completely out in the open, thanks to the cool weather. Although mostly sleeping, the male did lift his head a few times and one of the females rolled over lazily a few times, another sitting up to scratch a few itches, seemingly undisturbed by all the attention they were getting from the vehicles.

The second lot were 4 adult males lying about 20m off the road, also with an unobstructed view. They were also quite relaxed, 1 getting up to stretch and reposition and at times all 4 off them sitting up, listening intently. This is where we heard the others calling deep in the bush and it looked like these 4 were just waiting for the call from the pride females to indicate that a meal has been acquired.

In the afternoon we had a distant, but nevertheless quite special sighting of 2 regal Sable Antelope Bulls, silhouetted against the sky on top of large granite outcrop - a magnificent end to a great day on safari!

9 January 2016

Cool and cloudy, today belonged to the large herbivores. First up we came across a huge herd of buffalo, at least 200 strong, on their way into a wetland for a drink and grazing on the lush green grass. The herd consisted of mostly females and their young, including a few very new additions, with some adult males around the fringes.

Next, at a large waterhole, we found a variety of species; a large herd of Zebra grazing on the shoreline, a few large buffalo bulls lying in the water and a large Elephant bull in musth, having a drink after which he walked around the waterhole, chasing off everything in his way, including the Zebra.

Later on we found 4 white Rhino sleeping in tall grass, trying to stay hidden from the cool breeze.

In the late afternoon, at another large waterhole, we found 2 different elephant herds, drinking and playing, with especially the young bulls being particularly playful. A nearby crocodile sunning itself on the bank was quite brave and refused to give up its spot amid a lot of interest and a few warning charges from the elephants, including the matriarch herself. During all this there was about 30 hippo's in the water also with much displaying and threats being thrown around, especially from one large female whose year old calf was getting much unwanted attention , presumably from some young bulls, who were getting too close for her comfort.

The last sighting of the day put the cherry on top as we finally got what we had been searching for; a large, lazy male leopard was lying on a flat rock under some trees, fast asleep. Even though he was lying very flat, it was an unobscured view and we could see it very well. It did wake up eventually and raised its head to look around a few times, but by the time we had to leave the sighting to get back to camp on time, it was still lying in the same spot, but a great sighting nonetheless and a great end to a very successful safari!

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