The first time we saw this female leopard she was with her mom on an impala kill in the tall grass. She was very small and when her mom left her alone at the carcass to go and drink at the nearby spring, the leopard cub didn’t mind us and carried on feeding, completely undisturbed by our presence.
Now, we see her on a regular basis, always around the Banyini area. We often see her in broad daylight, sitting on the edge of the open plains under a thick bush, while surveying the scene.
On this particular occasion, from very far away, we spotted a herd of buffalo emerging from the mopane forest. As we drove a little bit closer to have a better look at this herd of two or three hundred on their way to the spring, we spotted her. She was as intrigued as we were by this huge herd, kicking up clouds of dust as far as we could see through the forest. As the herd passed by, the sun was getting closer to its zenith and she walked off into the forest, most probably to find a nice patch of shade to spend the rest of the day.
I hope you’ve already eaten.
While watching a pack of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) sleeping near a waterhole in the drizzling rain I noticed a few hooded vultures (Necrosyrtes monachus) skulking about on the ground. Every now and again they would peck at something and eat it, and I wondered what it was since vultures are scavengers, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals. You often see them cleaning up the scraps of meat from a kill made by wild dogs. The dogs hadn’t made a kill nearby, and so it was that my binos and big lens revealed they were eating the wild dogs’ faeces!
It is not uncommon to sit in Hwata blind and see dagga boys come to the pan and drink. Dagga boys are the old grumpy buffalo bulls who have left the ‘buzz’ of the breeding herd and often join bachelor herds of other old bulls. The name dagga boys refers to their habit of wallowing in the mud (dagga), mostly as a means of thermoregulation. These old guys are very confident in their grumpiness and often end up walking into the middle of the pan on a hot dry day.
It ended up being a remarkably fortuitous morning as we had started our drive early to look for black rhinos. I drove to all areas with the habitats that black rhinos prefer – areas with shrubs and trees and dense thickets, but with no joy.
Early one morning Jenny and I were out scouting in different vehicles to help the guests’ game drives locate key specific animals, like lions, leopards, cheetahs, black rhinos and wild dogs. At about 7 am we received a sighting update from Bravo 2, which is the main southern boundary gate that links us to Gonarezhou National Park, informing us that they had seen wild dogs frantically location calling and running backwards and forwards along the boundary area.