Hopefully another hooked lip

One thing that has always boggled my mind is how far some people wish to drive while on safari. Sometimes there’s enough to be seen in the immediate vicinity around the lodge/camp.

After one very entertaining morning game drive it was time to head back to the lodge for breakfast. The guide headed towards the lodge, but deliberately missed the turnoff. I found this odd, but felt assured that he had done so for good reason. We headed down the road and turned into a track leading into the bush.

I would never have guessed what roamed so close to the lodge. A short distance into the bush, out in the open, was a magnificent female Black Rhino.

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This beautiful, critically endangered creature was casually moving from shrub to shrub feeding, uncharacteristically, in the open. The black rhino prefer to be hidden away in thicker vegetation. We repositioned the vehicle to get a better view and not to disturb her browsing break.

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What was sad about this specific rhino is that she has given birth to two calves before, but she was unable to raise them successfully. The guide said that they were not sure why the calves had not survived, but they hope that she will produce another youngster and hopefully raise it to adulthood this time around.

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I truly hope that I’ll have the privilege to see this rhino again and hopefully she’ll have a strong, healthy calf by her side yet again.

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Marching in

Arriving at a waterhole with an elephant bull wading in the water is such a pleasure to watch.

Marching In

A few minutes later I thought I heard something moving in the bushes around the waterhole. Seemingly out of nowhere a herd of elephants marched in. Then after that another small herd. Then another soon after that. They just seemed to stream in one after the other.

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I had no idea how many elephants were going to arrive. I was so excited I couldn’t decide which groups or individuals to photograph. There was so much going on, in and around the water.

Overall around 60 elephants came down to the water. Some came to drink. Some came to swim. Some came to coat themselves in mud. Some just came to socialise.

It was very entertaining watching the various social dynamics at play between different adults, sub-adults and calves.

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The only problem now is topping off a sighting like that at the waterhole again.

Distress Call

Waking up to the early morning sounds of the bush remains an incredible experience. However, hearing the distress call of an antelope, a few hundred meters outside of your lodge, immediately heightens all of your senses.

I’ve spent a wonderful week in paradise at the striking Toro Yaka Bush lodge in the Balule Private Game Reserve. While getting ready for one of the game drives at 5:20 am, I heard a distress call of what I first thought to be an Impala just outside the gate of the lodge. I knew something had gone down. The ranger quickly assembled all the guests and we headed off in search of this unnerving sound.

We circled one of the blocks, but couldn’t see anything through the thicket. Some impala were looking attentively in the direction from where the sound came. My adrenaline started pumping and excitement kicked in. Could it have been a kill? Was it a leopard?

We came through the block for a second round. Then all of a sudden the ranger paused, peered through the thick vegetation and remarked eagerly, “Wild Dogs on a kill”.

I couldn’t believe my luck! We approached the sighting and saw a pack of wild dogs frantically scurrying around. Barks and squeals consumed the air around us. It was manic, yet sensational. Then we spotted the victim. It was a female Kudu and there was already hardly anything left of her. This all happened in the space of around 20 minutes and the sun had only just started to reveal itself over the horizon.

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At this point I had to compose myself and take a moment to reflect on what it was that I was experiencing. I had only been fortunate enough to see these highly endangered wild dogs once before. Let alone feeding on a fresh kill.

The canines were moving around in all directions. Each one seemed to be carrying a bone or licking blood off of another family member.

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We witnessed the efficiency with which these dogs hunt and feed and it is astounding. They seemed to be content with their meal and started getting ready to move off while the crushing of a few bones was still heard in the back ground. We moved out of the sighting and carried on with our drive.

This was an incredibly rare event to witness and I will always cherish the memory of standing at the gates of Toro Yaka and being startled by that mysterious, thrilling sound.