I just can’t believe we are already at the end of our second week of the second semester. Time flies when you’re having fun, or at least that’s what I believe. Our week started off with an ARH (advanced rifle handling) lecture and afternoon game drive. The pm drive produced general game and one vehicle was fortunate enough to bag an elephant sighting. More importantly a lot of insight was gained as to where more time and effort needs to be spent and sorry to say guys (our students), TREES are the order of the week…
Tuesday morning’s game drive links to my header! After an early wake up with a lot of red eyed and bushy tailed students we set out for some… you guessed it, tree identification with the hopes of a sighting or two as a reward. Fortunately for me, eagle eye Keenan was wide awake and as sharp as a whistle. About an hour into the reserve I spotted male leopard tracks and with my eyes glued to the road I just heard Keenan say stop, stop there is a zebra in a tree! Confused, most looked at him as to say “bru zebras don’t climb trees”, not out of free will anyway. We backed up the vehicle and there it was a 4-5 month old zebra foal in the fork of a big marula tree. After a long visual inspection of the surroundings with not even a tail flick or rosette to reveal the master of camouflage, Charles and I decided to investigate on foot. Within a 5 min walk from the road the majestic leopard revealed himself and as I retreated to get the vehicles so that our students can catch a glimpse of this magnificent animal, it disappeared into the under growth. We spent about 45 min in the area. First to try and relocate it with the vehicles and this is again where eagle eye Keenan and Rosie, the only other people to see it, had a brief glimpse. Then, the sit and wait tactic, hoping for it to return but to no avail. Although we did have a very nice spotted hyena sighting, as it must have been attracted to the smell of a free meal, only to discover that it was way out of reach. Sorry guys, close but no cigar.
After starting your week like that nothing can get you down and the rifle dry runs and SASSETA competency were a walk in the park for all, despite the long hours and very humid high temperatures. Lowveld thunderstorms cooled things down and gave us all new energy, and it was needed, because Thursday came with a lengthy but crucial lecture on ethology (animal behaviour) for it is most imported that we as field guides interpret these different behaviours to our guests as to make their experience more memorable and complete. The wet soil meant that there were a lot of new things to interpret and learn on the afternoon drive and following a male lions tracks won’t be that hard would it?
As Chris soon realised it was not any easier either. Hopefully we will all be wiser after our third week of nothing but tracking on the Cybertracker Track and Sign course, but that, you will have to wait to hear about! We did have a good lion sighting later the afternoon but it was not the one that we attempted to track down earlier, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Stay tuned and keep well as a new week brings new adventures in the bush.
Until next time,
Conraad and the Bushwise team