Phinda: A Humungous Python

By September 27, 2013 Phinda No Comments

From Wim:

Another bumper day awaited us as we left this morning, starting with last nights lions. We founded them after a bit of a search in a wooded area – and we were a minute or two too late to witness a hunt and kill. They had just takes a wildebeest, but we sat with the pride as they settled down to disembowel and eat their fill.

Then we received a call – there was a python a mere hundred meters away. And what a python! He was simply enormous, healthy, and very handsome. He moulted recently and as a result his skin was shiny and with very clear, defined markings. He crossed the road ahead of us …

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…and slithered up into a tree.

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Having heard that there is a mother cheetah with three small cubs in the central area of the reserve we thought it would be an idea to try and find them. 

The way we found the cheetahs was a little different. We spotted something in a tree. As we drew closer to see what it could be, we found one of the small cheetah cubs. The three are about 12 weeks old and at that adorable, playful stage. We watched as they played around and tried to climb everything in sight – including mom and each other.

The mother decided to go hunting and off they went with us close behind. Each time the mother climbed a branch or mound to check the area for prey, the cubs climbed up with her. They gazed around, but soon reverted to a game of chase, or tumble, or catch the leaf.

As the sun sank toward the horizon the mother spotted a herd of impala. We quickly placed the vehicle in an ideal spot to watch any action, and waited. Anticipation was high, adrenalin was pumping as we watched.

There she went. She stalked up close to the unaware buck. She was in short grass and we could see her as she came within about thirty meters of the herd. One spring and she would be there!

The chase was imminent. She crouched, hindquarters quivering. Our cameras were ready, already clicking away, as they had been since we met up with her.

And then?

For no reason that we could discern she turned and walked back to her cubs. Oh well … we had some fabulous pictures of her and her cubs walking, playing, looking around – great action shots.

On the way back to the Camp we found a couple of Thick-tailed Bushbabies (Galagos) – an excellent ending to another fabulous day.

Tomorrow we plan to start with the cheetah family again, hoping for another hunt …