Office Africa – August 2010
As you may have seen in the blog, one second I was happily working away in my riverside office and the next I was being medivacced out to Joburg. I spent the last two weeks in July in hospital. It was far from fun!
Anyway I’m back, fit as a fiddle and it’s hotting up in the valley. I’ve virtually caught up on the work I missed whilst out, and I’m told the wildlife viewing has been extraordinary of late. I’m going to have to get out of the office and into a car or a hide so I have something for you by way of a September newsletter!
The photos in this newsletter were actually taken in early July and were the results of two sundowners and one morning drive. I hope you enjoy.
We came across this troop of Baboons at sundown, the light was virtually gone so the images are a little on the noisy side (so too are the yellow bill images that follow). I love nothing more than a bit of baboon upheaval. As always it was completely unclear what was going on and who the bad guy was considered to be as they raced left to right, baring their huge incisors and screaming at one another.
These yellow billed storks helped us decide where to stop for sundowners and made for entertaining viewing as they alternatively knocked one another off the top perch.
The Mwamba Pride – intense as always; these lions lock you in a stare unlike any other lion I’ve come across.
Derek and I came across this stunning, big, male leopard just outside of Kaingo. He was in the tree when we first arrived and wanted to come down; he tends to be a bit shy during the daylight hours. There were a couple of hyena waiting beneath him for scraps and he sat in the lowest fork of the tree hissing at them. They soon became bored when realising he’d temporarily stopped feeding and slunk off 30ms to rest in the shade. Our big male leopard jumped down and disappeared off into the nearest thicket.
Derek and I were alone that morning, having just popped out of camp for a quick spin, and we decided to wait it out and see what would transpire. It can be a bit tricky to do that when we’re guiding guests as waiting in the one spot when the action seems to be over is always a gamble. Sometimes you can sit there for three hours and see absolutely nothing more, which is a risk few guests are willing to take – and understandably so given their comparatively limited time on safari. Other times patience really pays off, and this particular morning was one of those mornings.
After half an hour or so the hyenas returned to the base of the tree, one rearing up on his hind legs to try and get to the kill; he had no chance, it was metres above. We didn’t think the leopard would stand for that kind of insolence and he didn’t disappoint us. With a low growl he appeared out of no-where at the bottom of the tree and saw the hyenas off. You can just spot him here through the grass.
We spent the next two hours with him up the tree. It was great habituation training for him, the presence of the hyenas (and the female leopard – see further on) compelled him to stay with his kill, so he didn’t follow his natural daytime instinct to get out of plain view. We left happily a couple of hours later feeling he should have learned a little about the lack of threat we posed.
For all of his protectiveness over the kill you might think it hard won, and you’d be right, but not by our cheeky male! We kept hearing a strange coughing over and over, Derek said he was sure there was a female leopard at the site as well. I can’t believe it took us so long to find her (OK Derek found her, even after he’d pointed her out and I looked through the binoculars I could barely make her out). She was stuck right up the top of the tree in the most implausibly small branches. Incredible! He’d obviously chased her up there and he was not letting her down to partake in the kill any time soon.
That doesn’t mean he sat in calm repose during our visit with him, he was like a cat on a hot tin roof, jumping here there and everywhere, providing me with some awesome photographic opportunities and Derek with some great video footage. I hope you enjoy the pics.
Speaking of video, our website gurus have opened up a UTUBE channel for us. I’m about to fedex them a load of Derek’s video and I’ll let you know once some of it goes live. If you have some really exciting or spectacular footage you filmed whilst staying with us and you’d like us to get it up on our Utube site, then please do get in touch with me by email and let me know what you have. Whatever you do, please DON’T email me the footage :) my satellite would crash. The footage would be loaded to the channel bearing your name unless you wanted to remain anonymous.
I can hear a group of elephants pushing through the bushes outside on their moveable feast, so that signals time for me to take a momentary break and enjoy the magic of our wild surrounds.
Until next time