There is this ideology about the bush that highlights the importance of ‘being in the right place at the right time’. It is a matter of seconds before things can change drastically without a single soul ever knowing what just happened. In essence, one could have just driven through the area either moments before or moments after something exciting could have happened. So this is where the knowledge and experience of your guide and tracker team could play a huge role in what you end up seeing. By piecing the puzzle together to find what animal you are looking for, using clues such as knowledge of the animal’s habits, and where they might choose to hang out given the weather, time of day, season, presence of other animals and the myriad of other clues that the wilderness presents us. This could be applicable to the quest to find a secretive leopard through to the smallest of birds.
So in today’s blog, I am going to speak of a recent game drive where simply being in the right place at the right time was all it took for us to have a truly phenomenal morning game drive.
The drive started with the intention of going into Londolozi’s open grassland areas to find any signs of a Cheetah. On our way down towards the open plains, Ranger Alfie called on the radio that he could hear a leopard calling around a waterhole that we were close to. Whilst still determined to try and find the incredibly rare cheetah, we couldn’t resist the urge to take a slight detour past the waterhole in question after another radio call came through from Alfie, “the leopard is calling again. ” Thankfully all the guests were up for the challenge and who wouldn’t want to see a leopard if there was a chance.
As we got to the waterhole we saw three wildebeest scatter from the water’s edge. We drove around the bush to figure out why they were running? Is it the Leopard we are looking for?
It was not the leopard…
It was a crocodile that had just launched out of the water and in its clasp was a young wildebeest. We saw just as the crocodile pulled the wildebeest down and into the water. We were full of mixed emotions- sad to see the wildebeest had been caught but knowing that the crocodile also needs to eat and it could possibly be the only meal it will have for a while. We decided to stay and watch knowing that it was an incredibly rare sighting. Thankfully guest Phillip Ikoku was quick enough with his camera and managed to snap this quick clip of the crocodile swimming away with the wildebeest.
Video courtesy of Londolozi Guest Phillip Ikoku
When all the action had ended we decided to let the crocodile feed in peace and carry on with our mission to find a cheetah. While en route we came across two Starlings mobbing an African Harrier Hawk. We all were turned watching this scene on the left but one of the guests noticed a leopard tortoise right next to us on the right. It looked to be in a rather strange position and its movements were peculiar. The leopard tortoise’s back legs were digging a hole and it looked like she was pushing something out. Was she laying eggs? We came back later to see what had unfolded- she was gone but the hole was covered evidently by her claw scrapes on the ground. Regrettably, in the heat of the moment, I didn’t think to take any photos and rather was just in awe of what was going on. She had to have been laying her eggs right there next to us! This was also a first for all of us!
Just when we thought the drive could not get better, Ranger Kate called in a herd of buffalo on the radio. We were close so decided to join and on our way there, Kate let us know there were also some lions nearby! Now excitement on the vehicle reaching a serious high, we knew what this could mean. The lions could potentially try to hunt the buffalo.
It turned out to be the Ntsevu Sub-adults and they were stalking a buffalo bull that was separate from the herd. This is a smart move on the lion’s behalf, it would be safer for them to hunt one lone buffalo instead of having to put up with the whole herd of dangerous horns! When the Buffalo bull started to walk back towards the herd they knew they had to get it before it has the protection of the herd. We watched them chase and jump on the back of the buffalo but fortunately for the buffalo, the whole herd heard the commotion and ran in to chase the lions away. Once again the guests were quick to the cameras and got a couple of clips.
Video courtesy of Londolozi Guest Phillip Ikoku
Video courtesy of Londolozi Guest David Shuster
With everyone in high spirits, we decided to slowly drive back to camp to enjoy a celebratory breakfast and we bumped into a herd of elephants arriving at another waterhole for a drink.
Video courtesy of Londolozi Guest David Tinsley.
We were all talking about our incredible sightings and how we could not believe our luck…
Or was it just being at the right place at the right time?