Saturday, January 16, 2016

Giraffes Galore and the Cheetah Chase

It seemed as if we were driving around in the zoo's giraffe cage last night during our evening drive.  At, what seemed to be every turn down most every road, we saw more giraffes.

A male here, a male there, a small group here, there and everywhere.  I had not seen so many giraffe since my drive up to the Timbavati Reserve where they seemed to line the sides of the roads welcoming me to the area, so this was actually a welcome addition to my picture gallery                                                                                                .

 As we drove along the dirt path looking for more, one of our fellow Rover mates, Alfredo, shouted "Cheetah!".  She was walking about 100 yards from the side of the dirt path in the grass, blending beautifully. Had she not been moving, we might not have spotted her. We turned in to follow her. At first she was casually walking as if she was tired of where she had been and was looking for more interesting surroundings. Then, something caught her attention, and she seemed as if she had caught a prey-scented drift of air. She walked now with more purpose. We followed, hoping we would see a cheetah chase.

She was fickle today. She decided that whatever had initially caught her attention no longer held her interest. She lay down, rolled around on her back and from side to side, as I've now seen all of the cats do so regularly. She was on what we might call her "Sunday drive"...slowly meandering along, stopping for a sight, sound or a roll in the dirt...relaxed with no place to be or work to do.  We had an up-close and personal sideline view as bystanders in the snapshot of her afternoon. Then, as if she had been poked with the sharp scent of dinner, she leapt up, and with focused eyes, began a modest trot down the dirt path and into thicker brush. We followed. We had seen several herds of impala nearby...this could be the scene we all had dreamt about.

 We lost her, but knew the direction in which she quickly made her path. She crossed the field that our tree lodges overlooked...we likely could have had a perfect view of her from our tree house balconies!  Everyone in a Rover was chasing her at this point. We found her again, laying in the middle of a grassy field. At least 2 different impala herds were within a quarter mile of her, and she apparently could not locate either one of them. The wind was going in the wrong direction for her to smell them, our Guide and Tracker said. So close, and yet so far . . . We thought we might see a cheetah run down an impala - a scene any and all safari goers would pay good money to close....

To see more about nThambo Tree Camp see here: nThambo Tree Camp.  To see more of my pictures from the Klasserie Reserve and my time at nThambo, see here: South African Safari - Klaserie Reserve Best Shots

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