The early dawn found us back in the Northern marshy area of Phinda where we have seen so much action in the past days. We were hoping to find black rhinos and cheetahs and were surprised to find the pride of lions exactly where we left them yesterday – close to a small waterhole. They were grooming each other and restfully enjoying a quiet morning, watching the water hole without interest. The scene was so very peaceful with White-faced Ducks swimming in the tranquil water and we knew that the lions would not hunt today after that huge zebra meal they finished off yesterday. We started started to move on to continue our search for rhinos and cheetahs.
We had scarcely moved a meter away when one of the subadult lionesses who was watching the ducks suddenly sprang into action . She ploughed straight into the water in an attempt to grab a duck, splashing and causing mayhem as the startled ducks protested in alarm and flew away in all directions amid huge splashes and loud squawks!
Another subadult, not realising what was actually going on, leaped into the water, and not finding anything to chase, turned on the young lioness already there. Within moments all four subadults were in the water, chasing one another, leaping on each other, pouncing, trying to dunk one another, and generally creating a very wet furore.
Needless to say this is where we remained for the next hour and a half, filling our memory cards with the general hilarity.
Eventually the lions became tired and went to lie down again, and as though scripted to provide us with non-stop action, four rhinos arrived to enjoy a thirsty drink at the now quiet water hole. Their arrival rekindled interest in the young lions who stood up together, gazed hopefully at the new arrivals and then, deciding that discretion is the better part of valour they decided to leave the rhinos to enjoy their drink without interference. The rhinos were accompanied by a guard of honour of about twenty cattle egrets, giving us more photo opps yet again.
Returning to camp for lunch we saw a large number of different buck species, giraffe, zebra, and warthogs – but no cheetahs or black rhinos.
So this afternoon we set out again to find cheetahs and black rhino.
First we were delayed by a bull elephant enjoying quite a muddy bath, and who can resist stopping for those images.
Then a group of six or seven white rhino with attendant egrets took up much of our time before we were back at the lions. By now it was quite dark, and we used spotlights for our photographs of the lions who obligingly yawned, stretched and rolled around to ensure that we captured successful images.
Our final evening in camp finds us again around the fire, telling stories, comparing photographs like this one of yesterday’s leopard with the warthog:
… this cheetah cub from our first day:
… and again wandering what our last game drive in the morning will reveal …