Sabi Sabi yesterday, today, tomorrow

action, interaction and over-reaction

by Richard de Gouveia on February 28, 2012

So as the last guests leave, the new guests filter in and after such amazing game drives my hopes are high that my luck will continue. We left on the evening safari ready to explore the expanse of bush that is Sabi Sabi. Because we had seen the lions that morning we had a good idea where they would be later on that evening. I decided that the best thing would be to wait until dark before going to see them so that we could catch them being a little more active than their normal sleepy selves that we see during the heat of the day. We left Little Bush Camp and soon found a huge male rhino grazing away to the north of the lodge. This male is the territorial bull in this area and the scarring on his face and his blindness are a testament to the fight that he must have had to win this prime piece of land.

rhino at sabi sabi

We left him only to find a nice big herd of elephants feeding as they moved down towards the river. The highlight of this experience was a young bull who decided that he would try and show us who was boss…unfortunately for him his reaction only started a chorus of laughter as he lifted his head high trying to see over the long red grass…his ears flapping and throwing his trunk around to look as formidable as possible. Eventually he realised that his actions were not having the desired effect and ran trumpeting back to his mother as if he were asking her for help.

young elephant charge

As the day drew on we decided to stop for drinks but were delayed because of the herd of elephants that had decided that my drinks spot was the perfect place to watch the sunset and eat marulas. So off we went to the next place far away from the attention of the elephants and settled in for a great sunset and a cold beverage. Once done with the drinks we packed up and made our way straight to where the lions were. When we arrived they were all fast asleep, a few of them lifting their heads as if to greet us and then flopped back down to sleep. We then noticed that they were all bursting at the seams and had clearly made a kill after we left them in the morning.

Southern pride lioness at Sabi Sabi

southern pride lioness while on safari game drive

The next morning we left the lodge in search of a leopard and were surprised as we drove around a corner to find a hyena with a kill in its mouth. The small carcass was difficult to make out as it was covered in mud and at first appeared to be a ribcage…she was looking around nervously as she made her way to a wallow to stash her prize. Often hyenas will store food in water to hide it from other predators and scavengers. She kept looking around, almost looking guilty and we speculated that she had probably stolen the kill from a leopard as there had been leopard tracks spotted in the area. Another hyena, this time a male, came to see if there was anything for him but was quickly chased off by the female.

hyena with a kill while on safari at sabi sabi

Nervous hyena

We finally left the hyenas and were busy watching giraffe when the call came in over the radio that there had been a leopard hiding in the grass right by the hyenas. Now that the leopard had been found it was now just a matter of waiting to get in and see the cat. As the other rangers followed him they noticed a stashed kudu calf that he stuck into a nearby marula tree. We got in just in time to watch as he effortlessly climbed the vertical trunk and started feasting on his kill. This is a great sight to see as this young male, of only 2 years, is already starting to take on prey that is bigger than he is.

leopard climbing a tree with kill at sabi sabi

Leopard in a tree with his kill

What a sighting…but it was not over yet…as we headed home we found a herd of elephants making their way for a drink at a nearby waterhole and set up on the other side to get a good view. The herd passed the water by but two bulls came for a quick drink and bath. The first male was young and relaxed but the second was in full blown musth and thought that he would test our resolve. We quickly made space for him keeping a safe distance and clear escape route just in case he decided to get nasty. Fortunately he eventually got bored and moved off in search of the herd, hoping to find a female ready to mate with him.

elephant bull bath while on safari game drive at Sabi Sabi

elephant bull bath at sabi sabi private game reserve

elephant bull at sabi sabi private game reserve

 by: Richard de Gouveia (Little Bush Camp ranger)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

syl February 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Great blog Richard. You never fail. Is the lioness in the photo Mandleve?

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ranger rich March 1, 2012 at 6:05 am

thank you so much Syl. The first lioness is mandleve and the the next one is one of the other females.

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jody morrison March 1, 2012 at 7:33 am

Great blog Richard. Few things are as funny as young bull ellies doing their best to intimidate a vehicle. With ears flapping and not much control over their trunks, these little ones are magically comical. And the best part is when they run back to mama who frequently gives the folks on the vehicle a knowing look as if to say, “KIDS!). Magic……thanks

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ranger rich March 1, 2012 at 9:28 am

Thanks so much for the feedback Jody! The little eles are just the best…you can almost see the look on their face saying…”why does this work for mom but when i do it they just laugh”

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merryn robertson March 2, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Hey Rich these pics are amazing, love the ellie pics. We miss the bush so much but feel like we still get our regular dose of it from your blogs, pics and videos. Please keep it up! Love from Auckland xx

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ranger rich March 5, 2012 at 11:10 am

Thanks so much Merryn…glad i can keep you feeling homesick and hopefully you will come visit when you in SA!

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honey badger March 4, 2012 at 3:22 am

Wow…you are such a great story teller with words and with pictures! The country side looks so different than the spring time. The animals look awesome. Glad to see the leopards are feasting and doing well.

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