The afternoon looked ominous as the clouds built overhead. We all left the lodge knowing full well that the ponchos were going to be used and as we moved through the bush we could see the animals beginning to hunker down in anticipation of the storm to come. My plan for the afternoon was to find the lions as they had decided to make their way onto the reserve. When we found them, all 17 lions were fast asleep. They lay in the grass hidden from the punishing wind that was pulling the storm in with it. Eventually some of the cubs started moving from female to female to see if there was any milk available but most of the females kicked them off as it was time for most of them to be weaned. Usually the cubs will be weaned by about 6 months but it all depends on circumstance. During the time that all four mothers were lactating they were happy to share feeding duties but as soon as they hadn’t killed for a while the mothers would only allow their own cubs to feed from their nipples.
After a good hour, watching the interaction between the pride members we decided to head off and grab a drink. By this time the sky had turned completely black and we all took bets as to how soon the heavens would open. Just as we finished our sundowners and got moving the rain started and within 30 seconds it started coming down so hard that I couldn’t even see my tracker on the front of the car. The guests screeched with laughter as the torrents of rain that came down, drenched us within seconds. Once back at the lodge we were greeted with big towels to dry off as much as possible before heading off to freshen up in the rooms. The rest of the evening and dinner was spent chatting about the storm and the lions.
The next morning all offroading was put on hold as we had had more than 23 millimetres of rain the night before. As we moved along we found the huge herd of buffalo that had come on a few days earlier as well as two young bull elephants play fighting and sorting out dominance.
The next moment one of our rangers, KG, found the wild dogs coming onto the reserve and I immediately got a standby for the sighting. When we were eventually called in we could see them in the distance and they had realised that they were being followed by a group of 10 hyena. Out weighed and out numbered the dogs came in for a closer look at their enemies and then made their way through the block.
We moved around to the other side of the block to try and intercept them. When we found them again we followed them for a while. They eventually realised that the group of hyena had split up leaving a straggler and they quickly used the opportunity to chase him off. The pack has now whittled down to 8 from being 13 strong and after having 8 pups there are only 3 left. The pups are growing fast and hopefully they will be able to survive the trials to come as this beautiful but endangered creature tries to make a success of the numbers they have left.