Brendon’s News from Elephant Plains:
The Biggest Elephant Ever
Although we hoped to pick up on leopard tracks as we left the Lodge this morning, there was just so much else to see and photograph. Not only giraffe, wildebeest, and zebra – we also encountered the largest male elephant that I have ever seen. He was quite magnificent, with beautiful symmetrical tusks. And he was very relaxed, chomping away at a large Marula.
Then we heard that Salayexe, a female leopard, had been found in the northern part of the park. We stopped briefly to photograph some zebra with a tiny baby. When we arrived at the leopard she behaved as always – posing, walking, striding up to our vehicle and past, giving us every type of leopard image we could want.
We realised that Salayexe was on a mission … she walked down the road, peered intently into the bush and carried on walking. Then another check and on down the road, alert and watching the bush all the time.
She spotted a small herd of impala almost as we did, and immediately went into hunting mode. Into the longer grass for cover, she stalked closer and closer. The impala were completely unaware of her, and continued eating. Closer and ever closer Salayexe crept. Almost there! Our hearts were hammering, and the tension and excitement mounted with every second.
Just then a vehicle on its way to the park exit drove past and the impala all scattered. Salayexe gave a small, half-hearted chase, but the impala were just too far and out of reach. Ahhh, well, so it goes! But the excitement and tension had been simply amazing. Talk about an adrenalin rush!
Salayexe retired to a log, where she settled down to groom herself.
When done, she leapt down to find a nice shady spot to spend the heat of the day, and we returned to the Lodge.
This afternoon we headed to the east, thinking that we might see one of the leopards there. Yes! We found Mvula, one of the large, dominant male leopards. We spent quite a while with him as he staked out a warthog hole. He sat patiently, checking the entrance now and again for any sign of its inhabitant, but all was quiet.
We finally left Mvula for our sundowner stop. After the stop we again photographed plenty of general game in the beautiful light, –
– and numerous herds of elephants … about thirty per herd … have arrived in the area.
And we found a rhino. To our delight, a one year old calf strolled out from behind its mom. It really is great to see that some new rhino life is prospering in some small areas!