With a new group of students arriving at the EcoTraining Mashatu Camp, the instructors needed to show them around the reserve so they could start orientating themselves. They started out on morning safari as usual, and if you believe it, by 05:30 am it was already 30°C, so with that, it only made sense to visit one of the major water points in the riverbed.
The instructors and students clambered over East-West ridge, using rocky crossing which ensured that any students that were maybe dozing off were now very much awake! Next up was the fever berry forest, where they stopped for a bit to talk about the medicinal uses of this tree and made spinning tops out of the developing fruit. This is a game played by Tswana children and it proved to be more difficult than anticipated.
Once moving out of the fever berry forest, a tawny eagle was spotted posing beautifully on a dead tree, no one thought much of it, as there is a pair that are seen almost every day in the area. Then someone spotted some jackals in the distance and at that very moment, something caught their eyes…
There was movement through the foliage that lined the rivers banks. Instructor Tayla McCurdy grabbed her binoculars, then explained to the students that there was a lioness coming their way with her cubs trailing behind her. One of the students then informed Tayla that the jackals were feeding on some kind of carcass, it turned out to be a fully-grown eland – the world’s largest antelope!
The lioness and cubs’ bellies were all bursting at the seam, the temperature had now climbed a fair amount and she wasn’t interested in eating but was instead looking for some shade. This meant that she had to move away from the carcass, and lead the cubs to a cool spot to rest for the day. She trundled along with her little ones in tow back towards the fever berry forest.
The vehicles were not covered so, sitting in an open safari vehicle (the best kind) lathering on sunscreen, quenching their thirst the students were also sitting down-wind from the fresh stench of the carcass. So, why did they not move out of the sighting into a more comfortable location?
A: Sometimes you need to learn to stomach horrid smells as a safari guide (this was mild).
B: The instructors were proactive in their guiding and guessed what might happen and wanted to be in the perfect position where they would not be interfering with the sighting. Thankfully, they were right! The vultures arrived out of nowhere and started circling above them, then one by one they started landing.
This was an impressive scene and comical at the same time. Vultures are not the most agile birds when it comes to landing, they bound about at great speed before coming to a complete halt. Then, in a very gangster-like movement with wings spread out they ran towards the carcass. There is always lots of squabbling amongst the various species, with the most dominant species being white-backed vultures and then a few Cape vultures joined the feeding frenzy.
Next minute the lioness burst out of the bush, she trotted angrily towards the scene scaring away as many of the thieving birds as she could. Just as quickly as the vultures arrived, they vanished into thin air, with the exception of a few brave souls that lingered on the tops of nearby trees.
In the video you have just watched, there are many hardships, firstly the lioness on her own trying to successfully raise, protect and feed her cubs, they too were battling what looked like mange. Then the second is the constant battle between predator and scavenger, the vultures, in the end, decimated the carcass and the lioness left the area with her cubs, luckily there are plenty of animals for her to hunt in Mashatu. Every single person on the vehicle were in awe of the sighting, some may have to wait many years to witness a spectacle like that again.
If you want to experience a possible sighting like this, or even have a dream of guiding people in the African wilderness. Why not look at the various courses we have on offer? Or contact enquires on [email protected] to learn more.
The camp kitchen is a hive of activity as the sun slowly starts to filter through the trees. A warm beverage (or two) before setting off on an early morning game drive is always a must.
After the quick morning coffee and a chat about the game drive plan, you are then off on a new adventure. You never know what the day has in store for you. It’s very exciting.
Selati camp being situated on the banks of the Selati River makes the mornings even more beautiful, with breathtaking sunrises and interesting animals coming to investigate around the water’s edge the possibilities are endless.
It is always a pleasure to be out on a drive, even if the vehicle seems to be at an impossible angle. In this instance an instructor was driving, but the students each get a turn behind the wheel. They get to know the capabilities of the vehicle and they get to understand how to interact with guests in situations that might arise while on a drive.
Vultures perched on trees can give away the presence of a carcass, which in turn often signifies the fact that there are predators in the area. These two White backed vultures looked like they had a disagreement.
A look can say it all. Often when you get close to a lion, even if you are in a vehicle, a low growl will warn you of their mood.
Could this be a Shrubby Cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticose)?
Every drive is a learning opportunity for the students. Be it an animal, bird, insect or plant species. Questions are asked by the instructors to make certain that every safari drive it utilized to the fullest.
This is one of the Kingfisher species that does not eat fish. Instead it preys on insects like grasshoppers and locusts. They have been known to catch and eat lizards.
There is also a recorded case of one seen eating a bat! Of the 10 Kingfisher species found in South Africa, only 4 have a fish based diet.
The students make time for a sundowner break on the viewing deck perched high above the vast bushveld that stretched out towards the horizon.
There is no better way to end a day in Africa. Our sunsets are spectacular and will creep into the hearts and souls of students, both local and International.
Can you guess who they are?