Week two started off with an early morning game drive. Leaving camp at six in the morning during winter, when it’s still dark and needless to say pretty cold, is not easy. Every ones blood circulation soon started working overtime as the possibility of a lion sighting became evident when Charles found fresh lion tracks and bodies started heating up. I responded to give him a hand tracking these lions and after driving in circles for a while, realized that the only way to find them is going to be on foot.
We stopped for our morning coffee break and Charles and I went back to the last fresh tracks and started tracking on foot. After about 20 minutes of tracking, there he was! One of the dominant male lions on the reserve merely 20 meters away. Returning to the vehicles with good news had everybody rushing to pack up and get their cameras ready. What a sighting it turned out to be! We spent about half an hour with the two dominant males of the reserve. Apart from the lions there was of course all the general game species as well as elephants sighted during Mondays morning and afternoon drives, oh and I almost forgot to mention the leopard we were fortunate to find. Although she was on a neighboring property and the view was from the other side of a fence, beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to leopard sightings.
Our students have been spoiled with some amazing sightings and the bar has been set very high by the trainers. As from next week it’s up to them to start driving and the training begins in all earnest. Some of the other sightings during the week include lions (male, females and cubs) on separate occasions, elephant honey badger, serval and caracal. There were of course all the general game, hyenas, porcupine, civet and much more. It has just been an amazing week!
The lectures covered during the week were the all-important vehicles, radio, ethics and communication as well as mammals. Seeing that vehicles are a vitally important tool to a guide’s trade knowing how to take care of it and change tires is just as vitally important and this was covered theoretically and practically during the week. On Friday the first 6 of our students went for their 4×4 driving course to ensure they have the necessary skill to operate a 4×4 game viewer. Fortunately our game viewing provided a huge range of mammals that we could practically tie into what was covered during the lecture and that always makes our job as trainers a bit easier. Information is also retained easier when tied in with a practical explanation.
As per usual we end the week off with an optional activity and this week it was a guided walk. The main focus of these bush walks is smaller things that are normally over looked while driving, and hopefully find fresh enough tracks of anything bigger to follow. This walk was no different (except for finding the tracks part), we heard lions roar and not too far from where we were either. Fortunately for us they were on the other side of the river and it turned out to be 2 lionesses and 4 cubs of which 2 were still very young. Due to plenty of safe ground between us and the river we were able to sit quietly and view them for about 15 minutes. What an exceptional sight to end the week off on a high. If you haven’t seen the video clip (Thanks Francesca!) on our Facebook page, make sure you watch it here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=942782012414731&set=vb.117167081642899&type=2&theater
Good luck to all our students with their first set of tests today.
Until next time
Conraad and the Bushwise team