One of the best feelings working in the bush is to be part of a conservation effort to save an animal! A few weeks ago Emmanuel and I guided a family from India that stayed at Singita Ebony Lodge. They were excited to experience the vast wildlife of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and, in particular, the birdlife of the region.
After spending some quality time with a male leopard finishing off his warthog kill in a weeping boer-bean tree, we made our way to a waterhole in the south-eastern section of the reserve. It was here that we watched a little sparrow-hawk attempting to hunt a flock of white-winged widowbirds. Our attention was later drawn to a herd of elephants making a slow approach to the waterhole for a late afternoon drink.
Our vehicle was soon surrounded by the herd and this is when I noticed a distinct line around a young cow’s back left leg. I picked up my binoculars to get a closer look and saw that the distinct line was in fact a wire snare tightly secured around the pachyderm’s leg! I immediately got Emmanuel to take a look and asked our guests to get a photograph of the animal. I then called our habitat manager over the radio and reported the animal’s condition, size of the herd and the direction they were moving in.
The next day during safari, Sabi Sand Wildtuin (Reserve Authorities) and our habitat manager were out looking for the elephants. After our safari I heard that the individual and its herd had been found and that the vet was on route to the reserve to remove the snare. I made my way to the area and arrived in time to be part of the snare removal procedure.
The vet darted the elephant, it went down and we were able to remove the snare. Luckily the snare didn’t cut into the animal’s leg so no other drugs were administered to help heal the leg. The reverse drug was administered next and the elephant woke up slowly and moved back towards her herd. Great effort by our field guiding team, habitat team and vets in saving this magnificent creature!
We have been fortunate enough this year to receive sufficient rainfall over the wet season and, due to this, the bush has become a place of new life with the most incredible vibrant colours at every angle. The open clearings have become lush grasslands and the thickets have been blanketed by the greenery. One aspect that has really stood out over the last few weeks has been the influx of elephants into the area. We have been extremely privileged to see the large herds returning here.
On many of our game drives we have spotted these hornbills on top of termite mounds, feeding on termites early in the morning. They feed mainly on insects, seeds and fruits, and rarely on small reptiles and mammals. We have seen one kill and consume a chameleon.
In my eight years of training and working as a Professional Field Guide I have never witnessed a pack of Cape hunting dogs (African wild dogs) making a kill! I’ve always just missed the catch whilst staying with the dogs on the hunt and then arriving to a scene where the prey is already dead and the dogs are savagely ripping the carcass apart!
I, as well as two other guides, got the opportunity to visit our Zimbabwean colleagues at Singita Pamushana. What an incredible place to visit and what a great experience it was seeing the different landscapes and terrain. The mountains that occupy the property are mind-blowing as well as the open grasslands. The area has got a lot of diversity with regards to terrain, thus allowing for multiple different species to roam the area. We went on two game drives a day for two weeks and never was one drive even close to being the same.