HI, and welcome to my blog! I am a field guide in a private game reserve in South Africa and below you will find stories and pictures of my amazing job!

March 29, 2011

Raining Cats and Dogs

             Every now and again you get a hot streak in the bush.  Something so wonderful that it answers any doubts you ever had that this lifestyle is one of the most amazing possible to experience.  The last three days at Sabi Sabi have been just that…

             For me to list what I have seen the last few days would be too long and arduous for you all to read but the Kilcoyne family that were with me from 26th-29th March 2011 will know exactly what I mean.  The undoubted highlight of the last few days has been regular sightings of a pack of wild dogs.  Unusually for a pack of wild dogs, there are 2 pregnant females in this group (normally only the alpha female produces young) with one being so heavily pregnant that she looks ready to pop any day.  Every person on the reserve is crossing fingers that they den on our property as the last week has brought us the first sightings in about 5 months of these beautiful predators!  
 Africa’s most endangered mammals, with less that 2000 left in the wild, were spotted a number of times and I we were lucky enough to see them chasing impala around one afternoon in a picture perfect setting – a wide open plain with kudu, zebra and wilderbees watching on.  For once, they failed to find their quarry but to see them in full flight was equally rewarding.  The following day, were saw them again and watched them finishing the remains of a, this time successful, hunt before frolicking with each other next to the car.  What’s more we had the sighting to ourselves which made it even more special.  The only downside was the weather – late in the afternoon with cloudy condition made for less then perfect photos but the images conveys enough I’m sure!

We were also lucky enough to find 2 male lions on a buffalo kill and although the smell after a few days was becoming unbearable to some, the sight of these powerful animals stripping flesh from their prize is always phenomenal.  The males actually plundered the kill from 3 females and we were in the right place at the right time to see the meal change hands.  The next day, whilst following a male leopard, 7 hyenas chased him off and then made their way to the kill site where they, in turn, we chased off by the males!  As much as we would like to think otherwise, so much of this game is good fortune and to see this all happen before our eyes in the space of half and hour was awesome!  Again, photography conditions were tricky but the spectacle made up for it.

But the experience was not over yet.  Later that day, were found a female leopard casually strolling along the road with her 1 year old male cub.  She must have been taking him to a kill that she had stashed for him because his exuberance was obvious.  For an hour and a half we followed their progress and not a minute went by without the cub excitedly exploring his surroundings or pouncing on his mother.  It was a lovely sighting to just witness the interactions between the two, and to see the next generation of Sabi Sabi’s leopards honing his skills for the torrid and lonely life ahead of him.  It’s not every day you get to watch 2 leopards together and we milked it for every penny!


             Other sightings of notice were herds of elephants with babies jostling with each other, a herd of at least 200 buffako, lion cubs, baby rhinos, zebra and giraffe.  Not the mention the usual blend of fascinating insects and birds.  What an amazing few days!