This month Hwange National Park proved to be one of the best places for safari adventures, offering a host of exciting game with special antelope appearing on every drive.
The open ‘vlei’ attracted the super predators, which made drives entertaining. We saw three different prides of lion, and we were very lucky to see a couple of hunts, sometimes their relentless enemies – the buffalo – fighting back, even threatening the lives of the king of beasts.
Leopards were even more cooperative, allowing stunning photographs, some on kills, some hunting and sometimes even engaging in territorial battles. On one occasion, one of the vehicles witnessed a leopard stalk and catch a Helmeted Guineafowl; as if this was not enough, the feline then moved on to main course and killed a steenbok. The rosette-clad cats wandered around camp on numerous occasions, breaking the silence of the night with their rasping sawing coughs, and leaving only their footprints right around the main area’s fire pit. Hyena are being their usual mischievous selves and have been stealing and robbing kills from the above cats.
A female cheetah and her young fluffy cubs were seen at Back Pans. These sleekly spotted felines are a rarity in Hwange, seen only occasionally, and it was particularly exciting to see the cubs, and indication that the cheetah in the concessions are doing well. Watching these felines hunting just before the sun was about to set was a magical experience. One cheetah successfully took down a wildebeest on the Ngamo Vlei.
A fascinating sighting was that of bat-eared foxes, which were seen teaching their pups how to hunt.
The sable antelope are still frequent visitors to Ostrich Pan; their young calves are growing rapidly, with tiny spiked horns protruding from their darkening chocolate coloured faces. The stately jet-black males proudly stand watch, surveying the scenery as their herds frolic in the midday sun.
Enormous herds of buffalo have been enjoying open grasslands around Davison’s Camp. The old warriors known as dagga boys are fearless, marching along very close to lions without a hint of unease for their own hide.
Spending half an hour will never be enough to watch elephants by the waterhole. It is a whole dance played out: the opening act is the dash to the water’s edge, then much swinging and curtsying is done, right down into the water. The second act, after a short interlude as they move from the water to the closest dust patch, is one full of great trunks picking up the top layer of sand and throwing this over their backs, resulting in a dense haze in the air and beautiful sunsets of silhouetted elephants.
Drama and spice was added to one of the game drives when a lion had a buffalo by the neck on the ground and an elephant came to the suffering bovines rescue.
Ngweshla Pan offered a good sighting of our ever shy rhino on various occasions, much to everyones great joy. Even people who did not see them firsthand were excited to see the pictures.
Photos courtesy Davidson’s Camp.