The Tracker Academy is attempting to keep the fundamental skills and art of tracking alive today. Every morning a dedicated group of ambitious and enthusiastic ‘trackers-to-be’ greet the sunrise and head out into the bush at Londolozi Game Reserve. Their teacher, mentor and inspiration comes from the mind of the near mythical Renias Mhlongo. A wonderful, caring, intelligent and bubbly gentleman who has spent his entire life at Londolozi. He is, in my opinion, one of the greatest trackers alive today!
His enthusiasm is contagious and his ability and passion to teach others quite simply superb. When he speaks…you listen. He commands respect; but does so in a playful light-hearted manner. Wide-eyed, the Tracker Academy students embrace each day and never stop learning. They thrive in this environment. Off the vehicle, and on foot, they track countless animals during their one year of training.
They track elephants, rhino, buffalo, leopard, frogs, scrub-hares, snakes, lizards, hyenas…this morning they tracked lions.
After following the tracks for over an hour they were led into a shady and deep drainage line. It was thick and dark but they continued slowly with Renias leading the way. With each step they grew closer to their goal. A mystery was being unraveled. The tracks of at least three lionesses. The ultimate hide-and-seek. Last nights rain had left the vegetation wet and left the trainees with damp shoes, pants and socks. They never complained or thought about giving up. The positive side to the rain was that it had washed over the soil making it a little easier to follow the pug marks. You could also clearly see where the animals had brushed past the bushes just moments before.
Through hard work, skill and determination they found the lions. A remarkable feat. The lionesses growled at them and they moved away to safety. The radio crackled as they called in the find to the rest of the rangers out on morning game drive. The static on the radio meant one had to strain one’s ears to hear, but the message was clear. Not only had they managed to find three lionesses, but they think that they had seen a flash of a small cub. Although still too early to say for sure, it is possible that the Tracker Academy had just expertly found the den-site of the Breakaway Tsalala Pride.
In typical Londolozi fashion we will be extremely sensitive around this area. We may not even attempt to view these animals for many days. We want to allow bonding time between the mother and cub/s. We are well aware that any impression now, at this early stage, will impact the way the animal is viewed later on in life. Excellent game viewing here is based on mutual relationship of trust. So, although we can not confirm anything more than what I have told you, we are hugely excited at the prospect that the Breakaway Tsalalas may have chosen Londolozi on which to start their new family.
Written by Adam Bannister