Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains: Hunting, Stalking, Catches …

Hendri Reports from Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains: 

When we set out this morning we didn’t suspect what a busy day awaited us! And wow! It was everything one could hope for in the bush.

First of all, we had barely left the Lodge and it was still quite dark when we came across three young Spotted Hyenas with an adult, all sleeping in the road. Used our spotlights for some photographs before we decided to visit the hyena den that was very close to us.

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At the den all the youngsters were out, playing, chasing each other, fighting over random sticks, and generally having great fun. The interaction was wonderful to watch and we all enjoyed those moments.

We were still photographing the hyena shenanigans when we received a call that sent us hurriedly toward an area where reports told us that some lions were following a herd of buffalo.

We found the buffalo exactly where the reports said they would be, and it took just a moment or two for us to also locate the lions. They were stalking in earnest. The next moment everything erupted around us – one of the lionesses broke cover and chased the buffalo. The buffalo hurtled directly towards us with the charging lioness at their heels. Adrenaline rushed through our bodies and in the excitement and tension of the moment we very nearly forgot to press those shutter buttons!

Then some of the buffalos whirled around and headed towards the other lions – there were three lionesses and five cubs. It took a few moments before they all disappeared into the bushes – out of sight!

We drove around a drainage line to catch up with the lions and buffalo again, and when we found them again one of the lionesses was clinging with great determination to the back of one of the buffalos. We snapped as much as we could before the lioness was shaken off unceremoniously and probably exhausted by all the effort, both hunters and hunted gave up and lay down to rest.

Not far from that scene we encountered one of our favourite leopards – Salayexe. She was a cooperative as always and we ended the morning with some great images of Salayexe in a dry river bed.

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This afternoon we returned to where we last saw Salayexe. She was nowhere in sight, but fresh tracks showed us exactly where she was headed. We followed the tracks until we finally found her just before sunset. She was stalking impala, but they noticed her before she managed to get close and high-tailed it to safety. The leopard returned to the river bed, and walked around there before she emerged on the far side. We followed as well as we could, and we were beginning to think that this was a futile exercise because of the darkness and some rather thick bush.

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And at was at that moment, as we discussed driving away, that Salayexe suddenly pounced and caught a Scrub Hare. She walked around with her catch for a while, giving us great photo opps.

The next moment some hyenas arrived, probably after catching a whiff of fresh blood. Within a flash Salayexe fled into a tall Marula Tree with her kill. There she lay down on an exposed branch where she proceeded to eat her catch. When she finished her whole meal she descended from the tree. So from beginning to end, that sighting was about as outstanding as a sighting in the bush can be. Fabulous!

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So another very full, very exciting, and awesome day at Elephant Plains ended, and right now it is time for dinner under the stars …