Villiers and Brendon from Okavango Machaba: Hunting in the Dark
Another beautiful sight awaited us soon after we left the Lodge this morning. We didn’t even reach the river when we encountered a magnificent bull elephant dust bathing in sand, with that early golden light behind him. What a picture! What a photograph!
We went in search of the Wild Dogs or maybe a leopard but just had to stop when we approached a deep water crossing and found a herd of dozens of lechwe creating those wonderful arcs as they leaped over the water.
At the Wild Dog den we found only two baby-sitters diligently guarding the entrance to the den, as they waited for the remainder of the pack to return from the morning hunt. We hung around for a while and photographed the two as they patrolled this way and that, but there was no sign of the other dogs.
We parked at Matwiri Pan and were about to enjoy a welcome cup of coffee as we watched a lively pod of splashing hippos, and a bull elephant drinking at the water’s edge, when we heard that two leopards were not far far away.
Forget the coffee! We raced off to find a young male leopard with his sister playing in the Mopane veld. Lovely! When they disappeared we meandered back to the river for our delayed coffee break. A Yellow-billed Hornbill and a couple of Fork-tailed Drongos arrived to see what we were up to in their space.
We then took a slow, relaxing drive back to the Lodge, savoring everything that the bush offers. The peace, smells, sights and sounds … aaaahh. We stopped frequently to photograph birds, elephants, waterbuck, Impala – and a Tawny Eagle that grabbed a Francolin as we arrived and perched right next to us in a tree to enjoy his spoils – fabulous!
This afternoon we thought it would be a good plan to search for the cheetahs again, but no luck. That could also be because we were repeatedly distracted by Wattled Cranes, herds of Zebras, leaping Lechwe, and of course the huge elephants.
We spent ages with four young male lions resting peacefully in the afternoon sun before we left them for our sundowners.
But we returned … and found the four stirring. Almost immediately they went into hunting mode, but as it was pitch dark, we could not see what they were hunting at first.
We had all lights turned off so as not to disturb the hunt, and peered hopefully into the darkness.
Then we saw them – a large herd of zebras heading directly towards the hunting four. Ears flattened, hind quarters quivering, you could see and almost feel the tension as the lions prepared – any moment now!
The zebras came closer and closer … and suddenly one of the leaders sensed danger, snorted an alarm call and the herd scuttled away as one. Within seconds there was not a zebra to be seen anywhere. The lions stood up, and we switched on our lights to make our way to our treat for this evening – dinner way out in the bush. (I dashed back to the Lodge to complete this blog and am on my way back to join the others. Think of us as you read this! Out there, far, far away from any city or town’s hustle and bustle – with only nature all around as it always has been and thankfully is preserved for these special moments!)
Tomorrow we would like to start with the lions again – maybe they will hunt again at dawn …
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