Great news comes in threes – and so it was one afternoon last week when our guests had a sighting of wild dogs that included pups of about eight weeks old, in a pack of ten. This is our first wild dog sighting in quite a while as they are known to range over areas as vast as 500 square kilometres, and we are delighted that they’ve returned to our safe land. Immediately after seeing the wild dogs the guests were then treated to the extremely rare sight of a pangolin! The third piece of great news was an announcement from one of our staff that had us popping the champagne – in fact there is much for each member of our team to celebrate at the moment, these are exciting times indeed. I was surprised to see this bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) and hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)perched so closely together on dead leadwood branches. I inched the vehicle closer, switching the engine off each time so as not to disturb them, and crept right beneath them – no more than six metres away. They seemed to be giving each other the cold shoulder, which gave me the perfect opportunity to photograph this rare sight.
It’s so satisfying to feed off the excitement of guests seeing some of Africa’s wildlife for the first time, and this was no exception as we trundled down a track and they spotted a rhino. It turned out to be a black rhino which are known to be far more volatile in nature than white rhinos. This one, however, didn’t charge us or race off into the bushes a second later, instead it slowly circled around assessing us.
We left the lodge at the crack of dawn and thought we were the early birds, but other birds were already out there scouting about. As is the norm I announced my call sign over the radio, and got a response from Jenny telling me about the presence of a breeding herd of elephants on the Pamushana Access Road. On hearing this
The cheetah brothers came from of a litter of five cubs – three males and two females. Their mother was an amazing hunter and she managed to raise all five. When the time came the mother cheetah left her young ones to fend for themselves, and she went on to produce another litter. The cubs did very well for some months and the two females left the area as is normal to go and start their new life in new lands. The three males were fine for almost two and half years, but one morning we discovered that one of the boys was missing in action. There was no need to ask ourselves what happened because you could see the soulful bereft looks on the faces of the remaining two – they kept calling and calling for their brother until they realised there would never be an answer; their brother had died and they would never be a coalition of three again.
I decided to leave the lodge before sunrise at 5.15am. My plan was to drive directly south to Hwata Pan, to not pass Begin and not collect $200. Hwata Pan is an active waterhole due to it having permanent water in an otherwise dry area, and I wanted to see if I could find a nocturnal drinker. I was determined not to be distracted by anything else, and made good progress on the chilly drive as I glugged steamy sips of Zimbabwean coffee from my flask.