After a beautiful afternoon out in the flourishing bush of Londolozi myself, tracker Freddy Ngobeni and our guests experienced a few minutes with an animal not many people have ever seen before, or may have never even heard of. We headed back towards camp after sunset post sundowner drink, Freddy pulled off an unbelievable spot of Africa’s most shy and elusive predator.
“Stop! Look over there! What is that?
It’s a Serval!”
Out on safari, in order to achieve the best sightings possible, I believe there are 3 key components to a “successful” game drive.
Skill (tracking and spotting)
The first of the three key factors to having a perfect sighting is “skill”. The trackers at Londolozi, for me, define ‘skill‘. Their ability to spot wild animal tracks in the difficult substrate and sometimes very harsh conditions. Secondly, to have the skill to follow those tracks and signs using determination, knowledge and their experience in predicting and understanding wild animals’ movements. And thirdly, the ability to spot/see an animal from a far distance, sometimes hidden by the long grass or thick vegetation can really be the difference between having an amazing sighting or not having a sighting at all.
In this particular case, the grass was extremely long and the night was as dark as it gets. Freddy sitting up front with the spotlight in hand somehow managed to spot a slight bit of movement in the grass with a hint of reflection from the eye of a Serval in the distance. I am still baffled as to how on earth he managed this. The excitement levels went through the roof, not only for our guests but also for Freddy and myself, as this would be a sighting we’d never forget. Initially, the Serval was lying down, concealed by the long grass. To be honest, at first I was completely unsure of what it was. A few seconds later it reared its head and gave us a view I had never seen before.
Perfect timing and a little bit of luck
Timing is a massive component of a special sighting. Being in the right place at the right time plays an important part in what you will see out in the wild. Had we been on that road two minutes later or just two minutes earlier we may have missed that perfect view. Had we not stopped for a sundowner drink that evening or had we decided to stay for one more gin and tonic our luck may have run out.
It’s not often in life that you aren’t rewarded for patience. Patience is key. Special moments, more often than not, take a little time. If we had not exercised some patience in this sighting, we would not have seen the elusive Serval stand up and begin hunting. We watched it meander through the long grass in search of a meal. Typically Servals are very shy predators, a more common sighting of one would be a fleeting glimpse as it darts off into the darkness. Yet allowing the Serval some space, sitting quietly and having a bit of patience, we were able to watch this special little predator continue as if we weren’t even there.
Seeing this Serval a few nights ago was truly amazing. It’s sightings like these that prove the statement of every single day out in the wild is so different. The three factors of a successful sighting all played their own part. For myself, Freddy and our guests it ended as an unforgettable day.