Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains: Predators Hunting and Eating …

Hendri Reports from Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains   …

It was still quite cool from the rains and looked rather gloomy when we set out this morning – what a welcome relief from the heat! We thought that maybe the cool, damp weather would diminish the stench of the elephant carcass, so we decided to be brave and give that a try.

We arrived to find about eight to ten hyenas milling around and we used our spotlights to capture their behaviour around the still somewhat smelly, but bearable, remains. As it became lighter we used flashes – and then the vultures started to appear. There was nonstop interaction between the hyenas and vultures, as they tried hard to chase each other from the carcass. The flapping, yipping, and general intolerance of each group for the other was really comical to watch at times and each time it really looked as though all was settling down, there would be a flurry with wings flapping and hyenas running before they settled again for a few seconds and it all started again and again and again.

Then we moved to where Salayexe had her kill yesterday. We found her lying close to her kill in a sandy river-bed. There was plenty of grass around so we couldn’t get good images at first. But when she got up and went to the base of the tree to pick something up visibility and photography improved irately. It took a moment to ident what the leopard now had in her jaws. It was a leg of her kill that must have dropped while she was feeding earlier. She took this to a tree stump where she lay and gnawed on her prize, giving us an open, clear view.

The rain was becoming a bit of a nuisance by now so we headed back to the Lodge for a dry, warm break – and our delicious meals, followed by photographic and Lightroom tuition.

This afternoon the rain stopped. Our two vehicles split up, with one group paying a visit to the hyena den where the pups were playing out in the open.

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The second vehicle headed to the east, hearing that one of the female leopards, Thandi, had been spotted with a kill. When we found her she was in long grass with her kill. Although we could see her, there was no chance of decent photography. But her young male cub was more obliging and lay exposed on the side of a termite mound. He got up after a while to join his mother in the long grass. Although we waited until after dark, hoping that Thandi would take her kill up into a tree. She did not!

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On the way back to the Lodge we came across three young male lions not far from the camp. We did some good spotlight work with them.

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When they started to stalk an impala we held our breath, hoping … but the impala dashed away, and by then it was time to return to the Lodge.

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In the morning we plan to follow up on those lions first …