We were ready to set out on our evening safari from River Lodge and everybody made sure they had a warm jacket packed in. Although we are officially in South African Spring, the evening air still packs a slight bite as the sun begins to drop. As we set out on our way I was asked a question – “Can we try and find things not often seen?”
Now as difficult as it is to grant a request like that I was smiling because I knew about a Leopard that was seen on a kill during the morning game drive and I was confident it will still be in the same area. So that was the initial plan my tracker Collin and I decided upon. We slowly made our way to the area and hoped that luck was on our side. When we got to the area the Leopard was not there and the excitement started to drop.
We decided to try and go to all the nearby water sources, and see what nature had in store for us. Nothing was found near the water sources so we decided to go back to the kill site and follow the tracks from there. But that was not necessary! When we arrived at the kill site the Leopard was back! Excitement as always because Leopards are solitary and very elusive. They almost try “not” to be seen.
It was already time for sundowners by now so that’s just what we did. Of course, everybody still talking about the amazing Leopard sighting! After drinks, we were lucky enough to bump into some Spotted Hyenas. They were not just Hyenas, but young Hyenas suckling on their mother. Hyenas are one of those ‘Have to see animals.’ They have a very interesting social structure with the females being bigger and stronger than the males, yes with Hyenas the ladies are in charge. Also, the Hyenas have a ranking system, it has also been seen that young females will babysit the young of others to score points as a favorite to be ranked higher at a later stage. The lowest ranking female is still higher ranked than the highest-ranking male. Unlike lions, Hyenas will not let another female’s cubs suckle on them, only their own.
On the way back home, we spotted yet another secretive animal, a Large – Spotted Genet! Genets are some of the less known cat relatives found in Africa and are considered solitary animals. They respond defensively by arching or rounding their back and lifting their hair to make them seem bigger.
After spotting the last animal that was when one of my guests said “Now that was a spotted safari”! Referring to the spots of the Leopard, the Spotted Hyena and the Spotted Genet.
Story and photos by River Lodge Camp Ranger Francois with Tracker Collin