Villiers Reports from Elephant Plains: Salayexe Weaning her Cub …
Well, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to our safari.
It all began when we arrived at Elephant Plains in time for lunch, which we enjoyed on the deck overlooking the waterhole close to the camp. As we sat down, a large breeding herd of elephants with a number of calves arrived to drink and splash in the water. So as you can imagine, our cameras came out immediately and we spent more time photographing than eating the delicious fare on the tables.
Then just as the elephants started to leave the waterhole a large herd of zebras with impalas arrived. So out came the cameras again.
Before long it was time to set out on our first drive. Our guide told us that he had seen Salayexe with a kill just before he returned to the Lodge after the morning drive, and needless to say, we headed directly to that spot. And there she lay – sprawled out on a large boulder in the river bed.
As we drove up, we could see Salayexe’s little cub trying very hard to convince mommy that it was time to suckle. But she was having none of it! Time and again she nudged the little one away – firmly, but gently. Eventually the cub decided to investigate us and came to see who and what we were. We were thrilled, and out cameras busily filled with lovely portrait shots.
Then deciding that food was a better choice, the cub left us to climb the tree where Salayexe had stable the kill. Up went the little one, and tried very hard to eat some of the meat there. Mom kept a wary eye from ground level, but made no attempt to assist or intervene.
When the cub came down from the tree to rest with mom we moved on, stopping briefly to photograph the elephants we had seen earlier.
Hearing that lions had been spotted close to another camp we headed in that direction where we arrived as the sun disappeared over the horizon. We found four members of the Styx pride and two of the Mathimba male lions together – and they were on the move.
Luckily for us they stopped at a waterhole next to the safari camp for a drink. The orange and deep blue sky behind them reflected in the water – perfect for a collection of outstanding images. Then, to add to our luck, one of the males went to lie on the dam wall, silhouetted beautifully against that breathtaking sky! Wow!
And now for a bit of excitement!
As soon as the lions had all finished drinking they sauntered off — right into the safari camp grounds. We watched as people peered nervously out the dining room windows, and a few eyes could be seen anxiously looking out of their chalet windows, probably wondering how on earth they could get to their supper this evening. And those in the dining area will have a very watchful walk back to their chalets tonight – accompanied by staff.
After watching all this we realized that it was actually past our own time for dinner, and we returned to our Lodge, delighted with the amazing opportunities that our very first drive presented.
In the morning we plan to check on Salayexe first …
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