It is my first day back after 2 weeks leave and I am excited to get out into the bush and see what has happened while I have been away. The last drive of my cycle left me yearning for more as it finished on such a high note. The guests had been hoping to see the Southern Pride, as the last time they had come to visit I had shown them all the females with distended bellies filled with cubs, but they had done well to keep themselves hidden for the last 3 drives.
As we left the lodge, we bumbled along and finally stopped at a large herd of kudu that were browsing through the bush. As we sat and watched these graceful creatures, with their big ears scanning the surrounds for any sign of danger, the radio came alive and one of the other rangers had just found a young male leopard about 200 metres down the road from us. I responded immediately thinking to myself that this was the perfect way to finish off the safari for my guests. We found this elegant young male sitting atop a termite mound watching the kudu we had just left. We could see the cogs turning inside his head as he tried to calculate his next move but as time went on and the kudu moved further away he lost interest and decided that he was best off waiting for dark to fall so that he had the cover of darkness.
We then headed down to our southern section to see if we could find the lions. We were not the only ones with that idea and some of the guys from Earth Lodge were already scratching around there. It wasn’t long before they found the pride and they were all lazing about in the shade of a Tamboti thicket. Again my mind drifted to the thought that it was just the perfect way to end the safari for my guests. As we got into the sighting the Southern Pride began to move off and suddenly found themselves surrounding 4 rhinos. The rhinos snorted with displeasure when they first caught the smell of the lions and stood close together, all with their horns facing out trying to establish if there was going to be any trouble or not.
The lions however showed no interest in fighting with these large mammals and had clearly picked up the scent of something a little more interesting. It was a herd of impala and they had no idea how much trouble they were in. The lions started to split off in different directions as they always do. They were setting up their ambush, trying to position themselves in a bow shape on one side of the impala while another lioness snuck around the back and flushed them into the ambush. We sat quietly, waiting for something to happen, all questions had been dropped to a whisper, too scared that we might scare the impala if we spoke any louder. The next minute the impala all hit full speed as they tore past our vehicle with a hungry lioness in hot pursuit. What they hadn’t realised was that there were more waiting for them.
By the time we turned the vehicle around there were three lionesses feeding on the little antelope. They fed as quickly as they could before the other 11 lions came to join. Eventually the rest of the pride scrabbled in to try and get a morsel, all heads fighting for a place to get some purchase on the antelope before all of them pulled in different directions and each then ran away with their little scrap to try and find a place to eat their piece in peace. What an amazing way for my guests to finish their safari and for me to finish my cycle!