A Lion Kill, Cute Cubs, Birding ‘Lifers’ – Not To Be Missed …

Dawie’s Notes from the Kgalagadi Photo Tour:

Another wonderful day awaited us when we started our early morning game drive. During the night we heard lions calling – and they sounded quite close to us. As we left the Lodge we found their tracks actually leading out of the Lodge grounds, so they had been very close … right there with us. The tracks led across the riverbed and across the dunes.

We saw many different bird species, including a number of ‘lifers’ for some of the guests. Because Sand Grouse gather in the early morning at a particular waterhole we headed there to photograph the congregation of the birds.

As we approached the waterhole we found more than just the Grouse – a lion and lioness had killed an eland earlier and were feeding. Jackals darted back and forth, trying to assess when it would be safe to dart in and grab a morsel.

We remained with there for ages, watching and photographing the action, until the lions settled down under a tree for their post-meal, noon siesta.

We had a cursory check for cheetahs that had been not far away but when we failed to find them we headed back to the Lodge. On the way we stopped for around fifteen new bird species. Again our cameras were really busy recording our mounting tally.

After a rest during the heat of the day we were ready for more birds – and more wildlife of all descriptions. We started a meandering drive back to the lions with their kill. We found ostriches sun and sand bathing while Ground Squirrels scurried around.

When we reached the lions they were still asleep and showed no sign of stirring. After photographing the jackals that took full advantage of the sleeping cats absence from the kill, we explored further down the road.

And what a joy! We came across a lioness with four young very active, busy little Cubs. They were too cute as they scrambled all over mom, climbed up and down her sides, suckled from time to times and tumbled around on their still rather unsteady little legs.

After photographing Plains game we returned to the lioness. We were very lucky as she approached quite close to us when we arrived, gave us a few lovely poses, and then figured that it was a bit warm in the full sun and she took the cubs back to a cooler shady spot that was not great for photography. But we had enjoyed those specials moments with her and had a wonderful opportunity for some superb photographs.

We headed back to the lions with the kill, and found the sated duo still asleep. But the Black-backed Jackals were still very busy as they enjoyed every moment of the lions’ absence. The setting sun gave the scene a beautiful golden orange glow, and the dusty conditions created enough drama for some wonderful images.

Almost back at the Lodge we found a herd of eland hurrying to the waterhole for a drink. Being large animals they kicked up a lot of dust, and once again the setting sun and the dust created a perfect scene. And as if that were not enough, when the eland had finished their drink, they marched in single file up and across the Dune next to the waterhole. Simply fabulous.

So after that lucky day with plenty to photograph, birding ‘lifers’, cute Cubs, and more – what an amazing experience. We relish every unique moment and look forward to whatever the morning will bring – and as I end this short report, there goes a genet, right next to me – I need to grab my camera …