Elephant Plains: Lions Set the Scene for a Bumper Safari

29th March 2014
Day 1
We all arrived at Sabi Sand Game Reserve in time for lunch, and then a quick briefing before it was time for our first game drive.

The bush! In all the years I have never seen it as lush, thick, or the grass as long as it is this year. And water everywhere! Although it is a good three weeks since the last rain fell here, the ground is saturated and there are large puddles everywhere, with seepages, trickles and wetness all around. The dams are overflowing and even some of the roads resemble small rivulets.

We captured some great shots of a herd of buffalo wallowing in pools of watery mud. They were not too energetic, and seemed to try and immerse themselves deeper and deeper into the muddy waters. We were able to get close enough for some excellent images.

I know that hornbills are a pretty common sighting, and are not usually worth much comment. But when we found a number of them in a tree feeding off the caterpillars that seemed to emerge from every crack in the bark, we simply had to stop. Then, when the hornbills started to feed the caterpillars to each other, we used our time to get some stunning images.

It was only a few short minutes later that we came across the Styx pride of lions. Two males, four lionesses and three of the most adorable 12 week old cubs were resting close to a ditch.

Well, actually, the adults were resting … dozing, while occasionally keeping an eye on the youngsters. And the cubs? What a boisterous trio! running, stalking each another, tumbling and crawling around. And then they found an enticing tree branch. The leaves, bits of bark, and twigs were ripped off savagely, each cub trying to outdo the others in ferocious leaf – grabbing.

The entire scene was so enchanting that we ended up spending the remainder of our time with the pride. It became a bit overcast, with lighting that wasn’t the best, but somehow the images of the cubs continued to be fun and endearing.

We are back at the lodge, and about to sit down to dinner under the starts in the boma.

Word is that there are new leopard cubs in the area. Salayexe has cubs born this month, while Shadow produced cubs last month. In the morning we plan to set out early in search of leopard tracks …

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