Posted by: tim ellis | September 22, 2015

South Africa’s Rare Mammals – Tuesday 22nd September 2015

Lions//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

A 6AM wake up call for coffee and rusks, followed by a brief drive out and a walk back to camp, led by Melissa and her fellow guide Andre – We have an excellent start, seeing both Bat-eared and Cape Fox before we’ve even got out of the vehicle. Along the way our guides point out various plants, and explain how the bushmen used them for food, or medicine, or other purposes, along with signs of wildlife (tracks, burrows, etc.) including a porcupine hole that is big enough for Andre to stand up in! We arrive back for breakfast, after which it is time for another walk, this time to the bushman craft village, hidden by a rise a short distance from the camp. As we descend towards the salt pan, Melissa and Andre spot lion tracks – more than one animal, they suggest, and quite fresh. It looks like they came down to the waterhole in the pan, and then went back up past the village. (The crafters do not sleep in the village, because of the potential danger from wild animals. They have accommodation in the staff quarters for their time here). The crafters are sat around a fire engaged in preparing beads for necklaces and bracelets from ostrich egg, porcupine quills and camel-thorn seeds, as well as using pyrography to burn pictures onto pieces of bone. They have several examples of their work for sale at what appear to be very reasonable prices and we all acquire souvenirs.

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We walk back, stopping to look at the lodges “resident” Yellow Mongoose, and are then free until lunch at 1, and a “sundowner” trip at 5 – or at least that’s the plan, but the guides discover where the lions whose tracks we saw earlier are resting up, so we have a mid-morning unscheduled drive to see them. A group of seven lions, probably all young males who have been ejected from a pride by a new alpha male. (Although Melissa thinks she saw more tracks leading away from the lions across the road, so they may be waiting while fully adult lions have gone hunting?)

Lions//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Following an afternoon of leisure we reconvene at 5 for our sundowner trip. I head up early to get a coffee, only to discover Neville and Mary had the same idea and have just used the last of the hot water. More is on its way but seems to take an age to arrive – still I manage a quick cup before heading off.

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We see mostly Steenbok until we approach the lions from the other side – they have moved a little, and it isn’t so easy to be certain that all seven are there. We watch for a few minutes, then leave them to move a couple of dunes away to a crest from where we can see the camp (and, in the opposite direction, if they stand up, the lions) for drinks and snacks while watching the sun go down, returning past a Bateleurs Eagle sitting in a tree.

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