Elephant Plains Safari: Another Day to Remember …

News of the Day from Villiers:

(All images from back of Villiers’ Camera)

Unexpectedly, this morning dawned with beautiful sunshine that lit up the area to an almost iridescent green, shining and glistening enchantingly after the rains. Everything looks fresh, and the new grass is like a fairway on a lush golf course. Of course this attracts a large number of grazers like numerous Zebras, –

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– and three different groups of White Rhinos. We spent quite some time with them as they grazed happily on the new green growth.

Our highlight for the morning occurred when we came upon Tiyane, Salayexe’s young daughter on the driveway to Elephant Plains. We spotted her next to the road, and followed as she ambled along in the cool morning air. She visited a termite mound for a look around before moving on to a large Marula Tree. She jumped up to a half eaten carcass of a young Duiker Ram.

We parked right under tree to watch as Tiyane tucked into her breakfast – the remains of a kill she probably caught during the night.

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As we watched we were astounded to see another herd of elephants arrive to pass through the area. Although they did not pass directly under the tree (a déjà vu experience from yesterday), we were able to capture both species in one frame again. The elephants milled around all over the small area, while Tiyane, obviously not perturbed in any way by their presence, did not even bother to give them more than a passing glance. She was far more focussed on her carcass.

Actually, the elephants did not seem to acknowledge Tiyane’s presence either, but this was not the same for two Spotted Hyenas. They lay on the ground right under the tree, watching the leopard intently. A large Alpha female was accompanied by another large female. They waited at the base of the tree, waiting expectantly for any meaty morsel to drop from above. They were rewarded with scraps that fell from time to time – until a Duiker leg plummeted from the tree to clunk almost on the Hyena’s head. She devoured it within seconds, and before the other Hyena even noticed what had happened.

Tiyane continued eating, and at one stage moved the dwindling remains to a different part of the tree. She sat and watched us for some time as we watched and photographed her.

While checking for a good place to stop for our morning coffee break we found another small herd of Elephants. An Elephant cow was accompanied by her calves of different ages. We went to a water hole and waited for them to come along for a drink. Great photos, we thought. They did come along, but walked right past us. That small disappointment for us was quickly forgotten when a White Rhino arrived while we enjoyed our coffee – followed by a herd of 6 or 7 Nyala Bulls that strolled past.

The clouds rolled in during our lunch break, and it was quite overcast when we reached Tiyane again this afternoon. She was still busy with her kill, this time surrounded by hundreds of Blow Flies that circled around, attracted by the smell.

As we left her we heard that Wild Dogs were sighted in the eastern area of the reserve. We found the dogs resting in a mud wallow, half in the water.

Because the dogs were very inactive we left them to go in search of the nearby Tsalala Lions, passing two fiercely duelling Impala Rams on the way before we found the Lions chilling out in the open where we left them yesterday.

Then back to the dogs. They were getting up, yawning, stretching and sniffing around, giving us plenty of time for some really decent shots before we returned to the Lions again.

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There we captured some more spotlight images, with back or side lighting while the Lions obligingly yawned widely from time to time.

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Other Lions roared in the distance, and these four pricked up their ears and listened intently to each roar.

 

All too soon it was time to return to the Lodge, cameras full, and thinking that surely life does not get much better than this …