What a crazy couple of days we have had…for the last week we have been inundated with rain and with the rain comes the dramatic change to the bush. You can almost sit and watch the grass grow because it has been fed with so much life giving moisture. As good as this is for the plants, we have to pray that all the animals are waiting along side the road for us as we cannot go off road when it is so wet. This is done to ensure that we keep this amazing environment in pristine condition.
Fortunately it seemed like the animals could sense the worry running through all the ranger’s heads and obliged with some amazing sightings just off the road. First we watched a group of dwarf mongooses grooming and playing next to the road. This little creature is the smallest carnivore in Africa and definitely a guest favourite. As we approached them they all scurried away to safety but after sitting quietly they emerged from their hiding places and continued with their activities.
Over the last few days we have also enjoyed a significant amount of male lion presence around the reserve. The Kruger males are becoming a more regular feature to our safaris as they venture into the reserve in search of the Southern Pride. These two massive males pulled down a young buffalo and stashed it in a drainage line next to the road. We had a nice view of the one male as the other was feeding out of sight and he would wake from his slumber every now and again to pose for a photo then flop straight back down and go back to sleep.
The highlight of all the sightings had to be a female leopard and her 21 month old son. She had brought down an impala and had decided that the tree next to the road was the perfect place to stash her catch. As we arrived in the sighting we found her sleeping on top of the termite mound, which the tree had grown out of. She was full and fat and unperturbed by the hyena that was hanging around hoping to pick up some scraps. Her young son was in the tree feeding away on the impala carcass in the tree occasionally dropping a scrap or two which the hyena very quickly snapped up. Due to the rain and cloud cover the light was not great but my Nikon D7000 was hard at work. I cranked my ISO up to 1250 and snapped away with easy and nearly no quality loss on the photos. It is amazing what new technology can do!
The last morning before heading off on leave, the bush left a present for me as the four males that were once the sons of the Southern Pride had wandered back onto the reserve for a visit. With the Southern Pride having no male to take control of the territory, other males including the Kruger Males and the Southern Pride males have started venturing into the area to see if they can lay claim to this prime territory. I later heard that the Southern Pride males were found mating with one of their sisters from the Southern Pride… This story is far from over and I will keep you updated on any further news on what is happening and who is going to win the fight for the Southern Pride.