Cheetahs, Cheetahs, Lions, Leopard! …

Dawie’s Update from Ta Sebube Lodge on the on the Kgalagadi Photo Safari:
(Photos from back of Dawies’ Camera)

A brilliant day lay ahead for us as we left the Lodge early in the morning. We planned a full day trip all the way to Mata Mata and took a packed lunch so that we would not have to return to the Lodge at noon.

Just north of the Lodge we found a Spotted Hyena trotting along the road. Because the light was still rather dull we concentrated on panning shots. He stuck to the road and when he veered off, he didn’t go far. We were able to follow until we were satisfied that we all had a collection of good images.

We went onto the Dune Road. This was a fabulous idea as we saw plenty of action along the way. The bird life was superb. We saw Northern Black Korhaan with its distinctive black and white markings.

And we found a little Steenbok family. A tiny baby was accompanied by its parents, and they were relaxed enough for us to admire them and get some decent images. And Gemsbok looked so dramatic and beautiful on the dune ridges.

As we continued our drive we stopped again to photograph Jackals, and finally we reached the Auob River. Here we were greeted by Tawny Eagles in a dead tree. It was a beautiful sight with the birds in that stark tree.

Further on we stopped for Ground Squirrels before two Cheetahs caught our attention. The cats were on a ridge, and they gazed with great interest at a herd of Springbok below them. Oh great, we thought – would the cheetahs hunt? And sure they did! They crept closer to the herd, but just as our excitement increased and our cameras were ready, a Wildebeest pitched up and the Springbok scattered. We left the scene because the Cheetahs returned to the ridge where they lay down and showed no further interest in their surroundings.

And just as well! Less that four kilometres further we found another Cheetah – with two cubs. They obligingly relaxed right next to the road, and we spent ages photographing them from different angles, and with different techniques. It was an opportunity not to be missed.

Having collected images of every possible description we decided to move on. Again this was a great decision as we soon bumped into lions at a waterhole. A large Black-maned lion with three lionesses lounged lazily under some Camelthorn Trees. They were a bit sleepy so we didn’t stay for long.

On the way to Mata Mata we passed Secretary Birds, Crimson-breasted Shrikes, Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters and too many others to list.

And then we stumbled onto an amazing Leopard sighting.

The leopard was asleep in a tree at first, but then a herd of Springbok arrived under the tree and within seconds everything changed. The Leopard saw the herd as they arrived at the tree and almost leaped out of the tree, directly onto one of the buck. The cat came down to a low branch, about a meter from the ground. The Springbok spotted the predator and retreated hastily. The leopard thought that further pursuit was not be worth the effort and climbed back to a higher branch again. She was so relaxed and in such a beautiful position that we photographed her from every possible angle.

By now it was time for a late lunch, after which we turned back to the Lodge. We passed all the same animals again, including the Leopard, Lions, Cheetahs, and others. We photographed them all again in the different afternoon light. We found Meerkats everywhere, and could not resist a stop for them.

Then almost unbelievably we found another Cheetah. This time a male lay comfortably in the shade of a tree. We didn’t stop for long because we already had some outstanding photos from earlier. (We are getting spoiled and picky).

Just before we reached the Lodge we found a herd of Wildbeest. The sun was low, and the Wildebeest kicked up dust in all directions. It looked so beautiful with the sun behind the dust, with rays piercing through, and the Wildebeest looming as dark shadows.

Ahh, it really was a suitable and brilliant ending to another memorable day. So one cannot help wondering what tomorrow will bring …