Chitabe: Lions End One Safari and Start the Next

Brendon Reports:

We were so eager to make the most of our final game drive on this safari that we were all ready at the vehicle long before the sky started to change from black to grey.

Lions have been very scarce here for a few weeks, but we hoped to find some tracks and to use these to possibly locate a pride. With this in mind we headed north toward the Moremi border.  On the way we stopped when a herd of elephants created an amazing spectacle as they crossed the marsh with the rising sun behind them

Then we found large Leopard tracks and set off in pursuit – we followed the tracks, drove around, but could not find him so we headed north again to continue our Lion search.

We had travelled quite a distance away from the Leopard tracks when who should we encounter but the same Leopard we had been tracking … he had really travelled a distance – and in a totally different direction!

 

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Photo: Hilton Kotze

 

We followed him as he patrolled his territory with determination. He totally ignored us as he sniffed rocks and bushes, scent marked, and climbed convenient termite mounds and branches to survey his area.

 

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Photo: Hilton Kotze

 

He really was on a mission as he scoured the entire surroundings, checking his perimeters carefully and leaving his warnings for any interlopers.

He finally disappeared into a thicket and we again returned to our hunt for those elusive Lions. 

We detoured to photograph Giraffe and then Zebra

 

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Photo: Hilton Kotze

 

– before we heard a mild commotion and headed in that direction. Two Hyenas were dashing in and out of a thick bushy area, chasing each other and then dashing back into the bushes. Then they would emerge again – still chasing one another. We surmised that there must be a kill out of sight for us and that the two were squabbling over who should claim the meal.

We left them to their dispute and continued our search.

We arrived at an open waterway – and there he was! A magnificent young male, enjoying a drink. When he had finished he headed off in a beeline – with us close behind him. And not far away he flopped down next to three lionesses and another two young males.

We were thrilled to see them, and as we watched a fourth lioness ambled up to join the pride. She greeted the members and then lay down with them. They were all out in a wide open area giving us plenty of time to compose our photographs and fill our cameras with our final memories for this safari.

Reluctantly we returned to the Lodge to bid farewell to the group heading home. But everyone has a collection of spectacular memories – and the photographs as backup – 

The new ODP Safari group arrived quite late at the Lodge so by the time we were able to set out it was very late in the afternoon.

We headed straight to the Lions and to our delight they were still there – sprawled across quite a wide area on the open plain. The late afternoon sun created ideal photographic conditions for us – and our images show that the light was superb!

We then drove to an area to capture images of Wattled Cranes. There were about 35-40, with the males again displaying, jumping around, tossing leaves and stones, and pursuing the females. They roost on an open water stretch quite a distance away and we we lucky to get some great flight images as they all took off to reach their roosting area before dark. It made quite an awesome sight as they soared off together into the setting sun.

On the way back to the lodge we noticed some Wild Dog tracks which we plan to pick up and follow in the morning …