A Puzzle – Why Has a Pride Become Separated …

Ben Reports from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Tour:

Our first stop when we left this morning was at the hyena den. When we arrived we found that it appeared quiet and empty. It didn’t take long to spot the reason – they were all a hundred meters or so away, at a Kudu kill. Well actually, the adults, subadults and large pups were at the kill. There was no sign of the tiny puppies and we assumed that they were stashed safely deep inside the den.

We photographed the frenetic activity at the kill. There was plenty of action, with many games, lots of vocalising, and nonstop interaction between all members of the close-knit clan.

When we left we decided to drive past the den again just in case. And yes! There they were! Seven tiny, black three week old pups played and tumbled with no adult supervision. We watched their cute games until a call alerted us to the presence of a leopard heading to a tree with an impala kill in it.

We left the hyenas and found the leopard asleep in grassy area about 150 meters from the tree where he had stashed his impala. We waited until he woke up. Then we started with a few portrait shots until he was ready to get moving. He casually took his time as he sauntered without haste or urgency toward the tree with the kill. He sniffed bushes and scent marked as he progressed along slowly. Eventually he arrived at the tree where he flopped down and lay in the grass for another rest.

Bateleur Eagles and White-backed Vultures circled low overhead, barely skimming the tree-tops. They had spotted the kill and were anxious to help themselves to some choice bits. The leopard watched the birds overhead carefully, and we could see that he felt quite pressurised by them. Finally, when he couldn’t take it any longer, he decided to ascend the tree to the carcass where he settled down to feed.

At this stage we had been with the leopard for one and a half hours and it was time to return to the Lodge.

During our break at the Lodge we heard about lions that had been spotted. A large pride has become separated from one another, and they are scattered widely across the reserve. No-one knows how and why they have split up.

As soon as we could we left the Lodge to locate some of the pride members. We found a few of them lying very flat, and knowing that they would get up during the late afternoon we waited. They got moving towards sunset, and we photographed them as they groomed, greeted one another, rubbed and nuzzled each other, before they set off into the bush. We followed with our spotlights until they disappeared into some dense Combretum thickets.

In the morning we hope to locate the lions again …