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Published: November 26th 2019
We delayed our start time a bit this morning because it was rainping heavily, a nice treat for a San Diego girl who doesn’t get to enjoy much precipitation. With the rain still falling, a little bit lighter perhaps, we set out in the rover equipped with oiled canvas ponchos. But only Hazel and I partook of them because Jonty, Lewis and Kevin are all tough outdoorsmen who don’t mind inclement weather. We were in search for the wild dogs again and were heading down that same road again, when Jonty was informed via radio that two leopards had been spotted near a watering hole. With the sun now out, the ponchos off and feeling the fresh breeze in our faces, we headed toward the spot where we came upon a father and son lion basking in the son, being watched by a hyena. The hyena was hoping that he lions had just made or were about to make a fresh kill. After watching them for about 30 minutes the two lions and the hyena, one by one, crossed the road right past our vehicle. The father lay down in the crook of a tree. The 2 year old son lay
on the ground. The hyena stood patiently near. The father lion was ready for his son to lead his own life and would occasionally let out a low growl (which Jonty can impersonate perfectly) and the son would reply with a submissive response. After awhile, the hyena skulked off as we weren’t paying much attention to him and he finally figured out there was nothing in this scenario for him. The father eventually relocated near his son and exchanged the same dominant and then submissive conversation. Finally, the son walked off and disappeared into the brush and according to Jonty, might never see his father again.
After leaving the leopards, we came upon a white rhino in the distance. He was munching his way through the thickets. Jonty decided that we should track the rhino on foot so we could view him up close. Keep in mind that we got very close to rhinos in Zambia but those rhinos were very accustomed to humans being around them. This rhino was NOT! With Jonty at the front, armed with a rifle, Lewis at the back and the three of us in the middle of the single file line, we quietly
worked our way through the thickets, following the rhino track for about 20 minutes. We finally came upon the rhino standing 40 feet away. Rhinos don’t have great eyesight but they can see things up close. They do have an excellent sense of smell. The rhino apparently either saw us or smelled us because he looked up and around, but because rhinos need a confirmation of both senses before they react, after a few seconds, he continued with his munching. We also had the protection of a termite mound in front of us.
Now it was time for a late breakfast with time to relax before our afternoon game drive.
We began our afternoon drive a little later to avoid the heat of the day and we also welcomed a family of three from Boston to our group. After driving around for awhile, Jonty got a call that the wild dogs had been spotted again. We immediatley set out at “hooligan” speed for about 30 minutes as the dogs were on the opposite of the park. We passed two beautiful rhinos on our way but we just blew right passed them. We were on a mission. We came
upon them eating a recently killed impala. There were 6 adults and 5 6-month old puppies. They all had a part of the impala in their teeth and were tugging at it from all sides. You have to get to a wild dog kill quickly as they are very fast eaters and they gobble up every bit, except the stomach which the dung beetles were taking care of. They don’t bark but make a high pitched yipping sound. They were beautiful and we were so lucky to see this rare sight. I’m glad that we weren’t there for the kill though. We drove back to the lodge in the dark with Lewis at the helm shining his flashlight back and forth across the road just in case there was something out there in the blackness. Luckily, Lewis spotted a big owl who posed for us on his tree branch. What a great way to end the day with another animal checked off our list.
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