Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Leopard Moments

It is night and we are spotlighting for wildlife along the edge of the Luangwa River. Our guides have heard both baboons and antelope warning calls and they know that something dramatic is happening nearby.

The spotter sweeps a powerful beam through the bush. It has a yellow filter which is less disturbing for the wildlife and in some cases an infrared light is used which is invisible to most animals. The light is flicked continuously over the scrub and trees. Due to the guide's wealth of experience the various intensities, colours and height of eye reflections above ground, indicate the type of animal.

Near a shallow creek bed he pauses and then re-focuses the 
light on the forked branch of a large tree where a leopard is chewing at the carcass of a puku that it has killed and dragged up into the branches.

We watch spellbound as the powerful predator goes about its meal. We can hear other movements in the surrounding bushes. There are glimpses of other eyes before a spotted hyena emerges from the cover. When a big cat kills these opportunistic scavengers are always nearby.

Sensitive to the cat’s needs the guides only stay for a few minutes before moving off in search of other wild moments that the African bush might provide.

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Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Zambezi Elephants

Zambezi Elephants
We were travelling down the Zambezi River by powerboat To the Chongwe River Camp. On each side of the vast expanse of water were scrub and reed beds while the middle was dotted with grass covered islands.

Hippos were the most prevalent animals and a few crocodiles ignored us as they basked along the banks; mouths agape for temperature control and teeth exposed.

But it was the elephants that I found most intriguing. They were in small groups of five to twenty with a range of sizes from massive adults to teenagers and babies.

Every so often we wold catch a glimpse of them feeding amongst the long grass or patrolling the bank ready to cross.

On one occasion I was lucky enough to see a pair of adults emerging from the river to clamber up the bank and feed on a grass island.

Later that day I sat on my deck at camp and watched a herd crossing the smaller Chongwe river just a few hundred metres away from me. Elephants are quite common in the lower Zambezi national parks but they never fail to elicit a strong emotional response whenever I encounter them.