Sabi Sand Photo Safari: The Story Behind the Drag Marks …

Hendri’s News from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains:

Leaving the Lodge in the cool, predawn darkness, we kept a keen lookout for animals … and of course our hope as always was to find any of the predators that have made the Sabi Sand Reserve their home.

Soon after setting out – close to the Lodge – we found drag marks. Ahh, we realised – a predator has a kill. We could see that the animal dragging its kill was a hyena, and we followed the paw-prints and drag marks. These led us all the way to the hyena den   Where there was no sign of the carcass or the hyenas. However, we did see hyenas on our travels and stopped to photograph them in the early morning darkness, using our spotlights.

We returned to where we had first spotted the drag marks and followed these in the direction they came from. And a very different picture emerged … there were leopard tracks to start with, following the drag marks. Was it a leopard that had lost its kill to a hyena? Possibly? Or maybe she just decided to follow and take a chance if possible? We could not decide because the leopard gave up after a short while, and her tracks diverged from the hyena’s with the drag marks.

We photographed general game, and then spotted a Rock Monitor peeping out from a hole in a tree, and once again cameras clicked and memory cards filled up.

A Dwarf Mongoose looks so appealing in any setting, and we photographed them as they scurried around, busy with their daily activities, and glancing at us curiously and a little cautiously from time to time.

This afternoon was fairly quiet – that is, if one is concentrating on predators, especially big cats. I realise that we are quite fortunate here, and to call an afternoon drive ‘quiet’ because we only found one leopard, Salayexe, in the late afternoon, makes one realise that we really are privileged and that our sightings have been stupendous.

Salayexe was enjoying an afternoon nap, so we waited for a while, hoping that she would wake up as the afternoon became evening. She woke up at sunset, and we took full advantage, using our spotlights to photograph her as she moved around, and started her evening patrol. She disappeared just when it was time for us to return to the Lodge.

So we are really hoping that our luck of the previous exciting days returns for our finale game drive tomorrow morning …