Finally!!! What everybody has been waiting for – 4×4 WEEK. And was it filled with lots of nerves and exhilaration!
During this week the students were taught the principles, ethics and rules about 4×4’ing and how to do as minimal damage as possible to the environment when choosing to go off road. The most interesting parts came when driving up steep rocky hills and knowing how to recover vehicles when stuck in a dried riverbed.
During the training, we were welcomed by a few plains game species who watched everyone trying to get out of some serious obstacles.
On Monday morning we left campus early with the hopes of finding Buffalo. It wasn’t long after we found their tracks which were leading to a waterhole – we knew that they would be there preparing themselves for the hot dry day ahead. As we approached some were wallowing in the water, while others were grazing close by, all surrounded by Red Billed Oxpeckers & Fork tailed Drongo’s. They were making the most of this opportunity for easy food, feeding off ticks on the Buffalo and the Drongo’s waiting for insects in the grass being disturbed by the grazing Buffalo’s. A great sighting with them in the water with the sun reflecting off their back in the East and the wonderful sounds of the wide variety of birds.
After spending easily 35 minutes with the buffalo we went for a well deserved coffee break, at a dried up pan where we also did ID’s on some trees and their traditional beliefs. E.G. Magic Quarry – It is believed that if you take a small branch and put it into your LEFT pocket and keep it there for the whole day, you will have good luck. Well I tried it once before and got TWO FLAT TYRES… BUT luckily today that was not the case as we saw a female Leopard resting on top of a termite mound under a Knob Thorn Tree. Earlier in the morning she killed a Common Duiker, so she was not going anywhere, which was good for us as we could spent nice quality time with her.
We thought that this sighting would be the highlight of this week’s game drive, but it wasn’t … On Friday morning as the sun was rising in the East, we found a pride of 8 walking down the road. After a while we lost visual as they disappeared into the thick bush and we had to go around and try to relocate.
It took us approximately 20 minutes before we crossed paths with the pride. Our timing could not have been more perfect, they were busy in the middle of a hunt stalking Blue Wildebeest close by.
We barely turned off the engine and all of the sudden the Lioness in the middle of the road took off into the thicket and chased the Wildebeest towards the other Lions. We only saw dust from the commotion and followed her with much anticipation. As we drove into the semi-thick bush we came across all 8 lions top of the Blue wildebeest, suffocating it slowly. For most people it is a sad sight but what makes it so special is the fact that it is so difficult to see a kill and this is survival at its most primal! The growling and fighting over the kill is indescribable and overwhelming and tends to give you goose bumps. Pictures and videos don’t do it justice. You need to see, hear and smell it… ferocious stuff!
It took them two hours to completely strip the carcass to the bone and then they did what lions do the BEST – SLEEP. Like we say in Afrikaans ‘magies vol, ogies toe’. (stomach full, eyes closed)
It was such a great week and let’s hope next week can be even better/1
Bush greetings Almero & The Bushwise Team
Pictures by Almero Klingenberg & Larissa Kato