Finally, the cold front from last week seems to have blown over, allowing the gorgeous winter sunlight to have its full effect. Although, as South Africans, we will still complain about the cold, of course… Just watch any of our Sofa Safaris from the last two months and you will notice how unkindly we all take to a bit of cold weather! Yes, we are occasionally wussies – but only occasionally…
The week was full of great sightings and although I sadly just could not find a leopard, everything else was out and about and ready to have their photos taken. Sometimes we have to let the spotted cats off the hook and give the others chance to shine too. One of the highlights of the week was spending a bit of time with a brand-new baby giraffe. Baby animals are always cute, no matter the species, but baby giraffe are just so adorably goofy.
Later during the week, we also managed to spend quality time with some Savanna Baboons. These primates are always wonderful to observe… well, when they are actually in their natural environment, doing what they should be doing, and not ransacking Chad’s house (which has happened twice now in the space of a month!). It was just so fun to sit there and not only watch them, but also listen to them munch on leaves and seed pods.
Some Dagga Boys (buffalo males) also made an appearance in their usual nonchalant way. I actually managed to get on foot and really low down to take one bull’s portrait while he peacefully watched me get the right angle through the bushes. Thank goodness he was so relaxed, as they are known to be one of Africa’s most hardened and dangerous animals.
I really enjoyed spending some time with a couple of herds of elephants as well. I love the elephants in this area, as they are (for the most part) incredibly relaxed and peaceful, often walking right up to the vehicles. I decided to focus on getting some interesting detail shots of these most incredible beasts while they went about doing what elephants do.
Sadly, the week also brought with it a rather sad confirmation. If you remember last week, I speculated that five of the six River Pride cubs had gone missing and had possibly been killed. Well, after a full week, I think we can now confidently say that there is just one left. We sadly do not know what happened to the other cubs, but they could have been killed by hyenas or even other lions. I know this is a huge disappointment for many of you that read our weekly updates, but unfortunately this is nature, and it really is what animals go through in the wild. One minute a pride can be bustling with young activity and the next it can feel like the entire group has imploded. This is actually fairly common and even those cubs that have a supportive and protective group stand a high chance of mortality. Still, it never gets easier for all of us out here to stomach. It is, without a doubt, the most heart-breaking part of being afforded the opportunity to spend so much time with these animals.
The good news is that the one cub that is left should receive all the protection and support from the rest of the pride, which hopefully will mean its survival to adulthood. On the other hand, one of the Nharu males and River Pride females have been off mating over the last few days, so maybe there will be new cubs in three or so months. Nonetheless, it was amazing to have been able to observe all the cubs and I will remember them, along with so many other lost cubs, for my lifetime. I am sorry that I wasn’t able to get an image of the surviving cub this week for all of you, but we will continue to share the River Pride story.
When you love nature and wildlife as so many of you do, you learn quickly that you have to take the good with the bad. Some days are heart wrenching, but others are filled with absolute joy, like the days you find a new baby giraffe or see little leopard cubs poking their heads out of their den for the very first time. Sometimes, all it takes is a bunch of sleepy elephants having a little nap in the shade of tree on a hot summer’s day.
Until next time, happy snapping,