Monday, September 16, 2013

It's All About the Kill - Part 2

Our theme of "the kill" continued into our evening drive. Word in the bush was there was a female leopard who had recently made a kill and was sitting in a tree along with the spoils of her victory. Off we went.... We were the first to arrive so had no one to point her out to us and we had to seek and find. Our brilliant back-up guide and tracker, Jeffrey, brought us to within 50-70 yards of the very tree in which she lay, unbeknownst to us. We looked, looked and looked trees, on the ground, everywhere. Just when we were considering giving up, we spotted her. In the large tree at the edge of the ridge that led down to the riverbed. There she was...on the first large branch of the tree that extended out over the ridge. She was facing the tree trunk, belly on the limb, all 4 legs hanging down around the branch, with her head laying on the branch facing away from us. She was apparently quite exhausted from the energy expended during the kill. She wasn't moving. Where was the kill? Did she already eat it? Then, far back at the edge of the same branch on which she lay, almost in a nest of smaller branches, lay the kill. A steenbok. The smallest in the antelope family here. She had hardly if at all eaten any of it. It just lay there waiting for her when she was ready. We drove around to the other side of the tree where we could see her face. We could also see the front of the steenbok as well. She never moved. Apparently that kill took a lot out of her. Her meal would wait.
We went off then to see the same family of rhinos that we had seen the previous day. The 3 youth of varying ages, mother and father. Father was always away from the others. Apparently the mother-father relationship is somewhat tenuous and the family gets a little fussy if he gets too close. The youngest rhino was laying next to mother. The middle child came up and wanted to get in between, but neither mother nor youngest child were willing to move to let in the middle child. So, the middle child started to whine as he was trying to nose his way in between them. There was only enough space for his head. His body was way too big to fit into the small space left between the youngest and mother. His whines got louder and more upset about his being blocked out. Of course he could have gone and laid on the other side of mother, but that apparently was not good enough for him. He had to be in between mother and the youngest. How funny it is to see similar human familial relationships play out in the wild kingdom as well. Finally, after about 5 minutes of whining and trying to nose his way into this small space in between them, he nudged harder, and the little one gave in. The baby moved away and the middle child, very satisfied with himself and finally quiet, lay down next to mother.

Our last sighting for the evening was back with the 4 lions we had seen earlier in the morning chasing buffalo. The sun had set now, so it was dark and the poor lions were having bright lights shone on them in order for us to see them. They were all intertwined with one another like a litter of kittens all curled up together. They could not have been more adorable or more reminiscent of a house pet. Seeing these gorgeous creatures looking so contrary to their hunting and killer role in the wild always makes it difficult to see them as dangerous.. Just as it was with the 3 male lions earlier in the week where the thinner one was being looked after by the middle male lion. We know that they are dangerous killers, but we can also see the nurturing and loving side of them for their own kind, and it just makes them even more beautiful.

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

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