Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains: Monkey Business with Salayexe …

Brendon’s News from Elephant Plains at Sabi Sand Game Reserve

(Images from the back of Brendon’s Camera)

Being the final game drive for the first safari this morning, everyone was very keen to return to the Ingrid Dam leopard with her duiker kill in the tree from yesterday, hoping that both mom and cub would be discovered in the vicinity of the kill.

We spent much of the morning with the leopard, first having to use spotlights, then flash as the sun started to brighten the day. She was way up in the tree, with a lovely sky that gradually changed from grey to pinky orange and finally to a deep cerulean blue. A few white clouds completed the picture.

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We carried on with our drive and bumped into a couple of elephants here and there. That was really great. Then a herd of zebra caught our attention and because they were at eye level, and looked quite wonderful in that idyllic setting, we stopped with them for quite a while.

Then we bumped into Salayexe. She was out hunting, so we followed discreetly behind her as she closed in on some impala. She had a few attempts before the morning became too hot, and she gave up to retreat to a cool, shady spot to settle down for the heat of the day.

By now it was time to return to the Lodge, and we reluctantly turned in that direction. The trip was such a success that no one wanted to leave …

When the second safari group arrived and listened to the anecdotes from the previous days, they were more than ready to get started.

After food and a briefing we set out to search for Salayexe. We found fresh tracks soon after leaving the Lodge and started to follow these. Where could she be?

The next moment we spotted her running along the bank of a dry river-bed. Grey streaks turned out to be monkeys! She was chasing monkeys – and they were not making life easy for her. Well, actually, she wasn’t making life easy for them either. The monkeys were going berserk as Salayexe chased them. She pursued one right to the top of a tree, and them jumped – but she missed! The action! noise! adrenaline levels! heart rates! cameras clicking furiously! It was an extremely tense, exciting few minutes.

Whew! Suddenly it was all over, and Salayexe carried on moving around. She stopped for a drink at a water-hole,

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– walked through the grass, then up the road and across some nice open areas. Finally we lost her as she continued to search for food and disappeared into some dense vegetation.

We moved on to the Ingrid Dam leopard. The kill was still in the tree, while a bunch of hyenas milled around the base of the tree, looking up expectantly, hoping that scraps or the whole carcass would fall while the leopard ignored them and carried on feeding. Eventually she moved a short distance from the kill to lie down on a branch.

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Again we started with a lovely late afternoon sky and when evening started our flashes came out to be followed by spotlights when it was completely dark.

We quickly went to check on the elephant carcass. There we found three young male lions. They had been feeding for some time and were fat and full and lying in an open area.

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After photographing the lions it was time to head back to the Lodge. After such a great start to the second safari we need to decide which of our sightings to follow up on in the morning …