Yesterday evening was the first drive I have taken out in around two weeks as Jon Jon and Justine have been doing all of the safari drives lately. Not having a lot of information about where and when last the animals had been seen, I set out for a bumble to see what was around on our large game reserve.
As Murphy would have it the drive started out really quiet with me discussing some of the pretty birds we have in the area and giving our two new arrivals, Richard and Tiffany a better feel of their new surroundings. As time went by we saw a nice group of giraffes, loads of warthogs, zebra, wildebeest and a huge Kudu Bull. We also bumped into Impala, Waterbuck and a few Nyala.
So by my standards a pretty average drive, we needed something great we needed something cool, we needed one of the Big 5.
I decided to head off in the direction I thought we might bump into a few Rhinos. After checking one or two of the bigger dams in hope that after the scorching hot day there might just be one of the horned goliaths taking a leisurely wallow. With no luck and light becoming worse it was time to look for a place where we could watch the sunset and hop out the car for a leg stretch, of course then everything happened. En route to our decided Sundowner spot we slowed down to view a heard of Gnu racing across the road in front of us, when just to our right stood a massive White Rhino cow and her eighteen month old male calf concealed behind a few Gwarri bushes. Not a great sighting of them as we couldn’t really get descent photos but one of the big 5 none the less. The sighting was fairly short lived, so off we went again on track towards our sundowner.
Coming out onto one of the main roads it came to my attention that the lions had been there the morning before and had headed in the direction of where I had planned to stop for drinks. A brief explanation and indicating to the guests that we were on the right track, we proceeded down the cutline. The lion tracks disappeared from the road into the bush, blowing my enthusiasm down the drain once again.
Pulling up on one of the dam walls we spotted three Hippos enjoying the last bit of sunlight. A brief look around before getting out the car I spotted a lion lying under a bush staring at us. Wow, this safari drive was turning into something decent after all. We spent a short time viewing the lion then decided to leave them and go for a quick break.
Getting back into the car I switched on the spot light and shone it around a bit to find we had been joined by a Spotted Eagle Owl which we had not seen come in and land in a tall tree close by.
Heading back toward the dam wall where we had left the lions we found that there were actually five of them, all scattered around in the bushes not far from where we had left them. We spent a bit of time with them moving the car into different position making it possible for Richard and Tiffany to get descent shots of the five Lions.
A storm was brewing so we decided to make our way back to camp a little earlier, leaving the lions we headed in the direction of home. A short time later in the road a pair of eyes was lit up by the spotlight. I was not sure what it was so inched forward to see if we could get a closer look at the animal standing in front of us. Upon closer inspection I informed the clients that I thought it was a Hyena and moved closer for a better look and some pictures. The animal then turned revealing to me that it was in fact a Brown Hyena and not a Spotted Hyena. Spotted Hyenas are more dominant than Brown Hyenas so usually they are not found in the same area. I had never seen one before and although the sighting of it was not fantastic, it was easy to identify and make this the highlight of the game drive (and also a personal one!)
Quinton Chick - Lodge Manager and Guide