sabi sabi ranger stories

an awesome safari

To be part of the daily lives of wildlife in the bush is a privilege I have come to appreciate. My most memorable Safari starts on an early winter afternoon in June. Leaving Bush Lodge, we found ourselves amongst a breeding herd of Africa's largest land mammal - the Elephant. We sat back and watched as several youngsters were drinking water and splashing around giving the guests the perfect opportunity to take some awesome camera shots.

I then learned that a male cheetah had been found close by and being the third most endangered carnivore in Africa, we decided to go and view this slender cat while there was still enough light. As we arrive on the scene we notice the cheetah in a hunting pose - my tracker pointed out a little grey duiker about 30 m in front of the cheetah. Suddenly, with an explosion of sheer speed, the cheetah sets off after the now running duiker. Trying to keep up, we lose track of the cheetah for a second, but then find it and see that it has brought down the duiker next to the road.

Unfortunately, a spotted hyena has heard the kill taking place and being a scavenger, comes running to investigate. The cheetah tries to defend his kill, but being the weakest carnivore in the bush, has no hope against the hyena who simply steals the kill from him.

The hyena has now taken the kill into a drainage line hoping the other big predators like lion and leopard don't pick up the blood scent. Unfortunately, however, the dominant male leopard in the area has come to investigate! Pound for pound, the leopard is the strongest cat in Africa and shows this by running in at full speed, grabbing a firm hold of the duiker and leaping up the closest Marula tree. The hyena is the land mammal with the strongest jaws and he is not letting go of the kill - so a tug-of-war begins!

The fight carries on for about 15 minutes, when another hyena joins in and the leopard has to let go and watch as the two run off into the night with their prize!

We follow the leopard who seems to be on a mission again! He walks straight into two lionesses on a kill and tries to grab some of their meal as well, only to be chased away by the much larger, stronger cats!

Back at camp we could not stop talking about the evening's activities. I still haven't seen anything like that in my 12 months at Sabi Sabi. We learned so much that evening about competition and dominance between the large predators, and having seen 4 of the 5 larger African carnivores on one game drive, this was for me the most awesome safari ever!

Buks Henning

Ranger: Earth Lodge

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