Saturday, August 31, 2013

The "Big 5" Drive

We had an amazing drive tonight and saw all of the animals considered to be the "Big 5" that you want to see in a safari: elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo and rhinos. Our Guide, Formen, is simply awesome. He grew up "in the bush" here on the reserves and can anticipate an animal's movement, where it is headed, where it will end up and where our best viewing vantage point will be. Tonight, we were "leopard hogs" in the first view of the night. 

The young male leopard that frequents our campsite was sitting nestled in some brush in the middle of the river bed over which our tents look. The way the leopard was lying in the bushes, the only place from which you could really see him well was right where we were. More amazing photos were taken. While we were in awe of our beautiful leopard, a herd of elephants joined us on the banks of the riverbed opposite to our campsite. We had 2 of the 5 sightings within the first 30 minutes of our nighttime drive. It was just spectacular to see the animals in the bush occupying the very same space - almost like a documentary you could witness only as a remote viewer through technology. Then our beautiful young leopard took off in pursuit of an interesting prospect.

From there, we drove to see the 3 male lions of whom I've become so fond. I remain particularly concerned about the thin boy.  When we came upon them, the younger healthy male was laying beside the thin boy who was laying on his side seemingly without energy to even sit up - as I've always seen him. Formen assured us, however, that one good kill puts him right again.

Formen insists that this young boy could still hunt along with the other two. There have been thinner young male lions who have recovered nicely with just one or two kills, he states. I will believe him and hope this to be true for this thin young boy, whose face I have yet to see because he is always laying down flat on his side.  As we left this site, we quickly observed a herd of buffalo and impala, which instilled in me optimism that we might see a good meal for this young boy later tonight. I hope to see him eating well and gaining strength.

We also ran into a larger family of rhinos tonight - 5 in total. Momma, two younger adolescents, Father and a baby that was initially hidden from us laying down in between Momma and one of the older ones. We could only see him as we drove away. Formen, of course, saw all 5. As we were driving away, he said "How many did you all see?" "Four" we all replied. "There were 5" he said. "Look back now and tell me how many you see." We all looked back, and by gosh he was right. Nestled in between was the baby. What would we do without Formen!?

Towards the end of our drive, I finally saw the herd of buffalo from which our first friend, who unfortunately found some hyenas the other night, used to be a part. It was an enormous herd.

  I could easily see over 100. Formen says the herd is nearly 600. They just kept coming and coming and coming and coming. It was a sea of black bodies and horns. 

The wind had picked up quite vigorously as the sun was setting so it started turning colder. It was another beautiful sunset. I look forward to what tomorrow's drives will bring.

For more information on the lodge I'm staying at, see here: Tanda Tula

To see more of my pictures while on safari here at Tanda Tula, see here: My Safari Photos - Best Shots 2 and here: My Safari Photos - Best Shots 1


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