Andrew’s News from Elephant Plains:
Or last drive with the first safari group was as eventful as the previous days.
We found the Wild Dogs early, and spent most of the morning with them. They were very active, playing and chasing each other as they moved swiftly through the bush. While playing, they were also searching for prey. We collected loads of fabulous images of the dogs on the move, as they continued to hunt and play.
We had word that the Styx pride of lions were also up and about and we headed towards them, passing plenty of game on the way. As we arrived at the lions we managed a few minutes of good photography before the pride wandered off into thick bush.
We then found male leopard tracks, but he eluded us … maybe because we kept stopping to photograph elephants, rutting impalas, kudu, or other of the frequent distractions.
Back at the Lodge, we said our farewells, and then welcomed the new arrivals. When everyone was settled we started on our first drive.
Because the Wild Dogs were moving so quickly this morning we were anxious to see them before they possibly disappeared into an inaccessible area.
We found them lying in a clearing in the afternoon sun. The light was just perfect for photography, and as we filled our memory cards, the dogs suddenly jumped up and started to hunt. We followed as well as we could, catching up with them and then losing them for a while as they cut through the bush.
Then they spotted a herd of impala.
Immediately the chase was on. Again they were really fast and by the time we were able to catch up with them they were already finishing off the remains of the impala they had managed to catch. Their voracious appetites mean that a meal of that size lasts for a few moments before there is nothing left.
As soon as they finished their meal they started to hunt again, with us following until they were out of sight.
We passed two herd of elephants, one with a tiny calf.
The moment that the elephants spotted us they gathered protectively around the baby. Soon after, hippos in the dam entertained us with wide yawns and plenty of splashing.
To our total delight we found Karula’s cubs. One of the young leopards was moving stealthily through a drainage ditch with impalas on either side. He was hunting in the early darkness.
Slowly he crept closer and closer to the impala. We held our breath, not daring to move. The excitement mounted as he came within a few meters of the closest impalas and broke cover. However, his dash was a bit premature and the buck had plenty of time to get away.
It was very exciting to watch, and our pulses were still hammering when the young leopard spotted and started to stalk another herd of impalas. Just then, his brother arrived and we watched the two young leopards, about 50 meters apart as they stalked in the darkness.
It was starting to get very tense again as the leopards approached closer and closer to the impalas, when three hyenas lumbered onto the scene to investigate what the leopards were up to. With that, the two cats slunk silently away into the bush, leaving the hyenas looking around but unable to see them.
Back at the Lodge in time for drinks and dinner, the buzz of excitement is wonderful, with everyone wondering what tomorrow will bring …