Elephant Plains Safari: Four of the Big Five – in One Scene

Villiers’ Bulletin from Elephant Plains: Four of the Big Five – in One Scene

A lovely surprise fell during the night – it rained! We drove out into a damp, sparkling, fresh morning, with those fabulous bush smells permeating the air all around. A lovely atmosphere as we searched for Anderson Male’s tracks, which we eventually found and followed until found –

– Tingana! Tingana is another magnificent, dominant male leopard in the area who has fathered a number of cubs in the Sabi Sand area.

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He was so busy!

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The rain during the night had washed away all his scent markings and he was on a mission to get his territory clearly delineated. Up and down termite mounds, –

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– spraying his marker bushes, scraping his hind legs firmly along the the ground. He was doing a thorough job!

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Then we heard the unmistakable sounds of a rhino and to our delight, it wandered onto the scene. A leopard and a rhino in one frame – what could be better? How about an elephant? And sure enough, there came an obliging elephant, making three of the Big Five! And of course, can you believe, as we turned around, a curious buffalo stood there, watching the action. And no – a lion did not magically appear, but 4/5 was pretty good!

This afternoon we did see lions – but let me start at the beginning …

Shortly before we left the Lodge for our afternoon game drive we were delighted to see ten elephants arrive at the water hole overlooked by the deck at the Lodge.

It was a very hot afternoon, and we guessed that many animals would congregate at the water holes. We found large herds of buffalo at the first two waterholes. They were wallowing in the water, enjoying the relative coolness submerged in deeper water or covered in the mud along the banks.

Then we found fresh female leopard tracks and followed these all the way to Salayexe. As always she was the most cooperative photographic subject and we spent a wonderful time with her as she walked along the road and just adjacent to the road. Occasionally we pulled ahead to photograph her as she walked directly towards us. Then she spotted a herd of Impala and immediately went into hunting mode. We held our breath, cameras ready … and then one of the impala gave an alarm call and they scampered …

By now it was getting quite dark, and we were thrilled when we bumped into the Tsalala Pride of lions very close to the Lodge. They were sprawled out and our spotlights came out for backlit, side-lit, different angles of lighting. Now and then one lion walked to another, nuzzle, and then flopped down again. The social interactions were just fabulous …

The lion can expect us back before sunrise tomorrow morning …

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