Elephant Plains Safari: Success Tracking Anderson …

News of the Day from Villiers:

(All images from back of Villiers’ Camera)

We had a slower drive this morning – probably because of the heat. We stopped under Jackalberry trees for coffee where we listened carefully to the bird sounds to identify the many species that we could hear.

We found the Spotted Hyenas again in the open plain close to the Lodge. One of the youngsters was very busily gnawing a chunk of buffalo hide. There was little, if any nutritional value as he seemed to just chew and chew – typical of a youngster chewing on some chewing gum. The other youngsters played nearby while one or other of the adults wandered past from time to time, keeping an eye on their offspring.

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We found Anderson’s tracks again, but we could not find him – even when we visited his favourite haunts. Maybe he was simply in some deep shade to escape the heat. Even Salayexe and Tiyane were nowhere to be seen.

Then we spotted the very first newborn Impala Lamb. Many of the Impala are heavily pregnant – and this was the very first little one that we have seen. It was just a few hours old, and very wobbly on its feet, trying hard to work out how to stand or take steps without tumbling over. The lamb and mom were still in a thicket where they will probably wait for a while until they rejoin their herd when more lambs arrive and a nursery is formed.

We saw many birds, including our first Woodland Kingfisher for the trip and a small raptor – a Shikra.

Now for this afternoon. As I suggested repeatedly previously, very high on everyone’s wish list was to see Anderson, the huge male Leopard, and although we have seen his paw prints on almost every drive, he has remained very elusive.

We set off this time with renewed determination. We had been anxious about the heat this afternoon, but it was cool with a heavy cloud cover, and we hoped that the leopards would be a little more active. We combed the areas where we had spotted his tracks, but as there was no sign of Anderson we started to feel a little despondent.

We did see two Leopard Tortoises, however … was this a sign? The tortoises were being a bit romantic – no, actually the male was, but the female kept running away from him!

The tension and expectation levels increased with every passing moment. Then a very fresh drag mark was spotted by a tracker. It was accompanied by blood smears and large Leopard tracks. Maybe – hoping – maybe.

And there was Anderson! He had a newly killed Duiker in a thicket and was just settling down to enjoy his meal. The big guy was starting to open up the buck and we captured our images first without and then with our spotlight as the light faded. The bush was dense but we were so thrilled to see him that the twigs and leaves in the way didn’t bother us in the least.

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We went for a short drive to give another vehicle the opportunity to visit Anderson, but as soon as we could we returned. Anderson had climbed into a tree, but soon after we arrived he came down from his lofty perch to pick up his Duiker and then he dragged it right past where were were sitting. We were able to light him with two spotlights for some stunning images as he transferred his kill to a larger tree to stash it high up and out of the reach of any Hyenas that would possibly arrive on the scene.

So there is mega excitement as we celebrate our great success back at the Lodge. Who know, maybe our luck will hold and we will see Salayexe or Tiyane in the morning …