April is the cruellest month….as the temperatures continue to drop on a daily basis, I was almost tempted to believe TS Eliot but in fact April has been anything but cruel in terms of its safari this month. It all started with African wild dogs who decided to appear at early morning breakfast and kill an impala on the pathway to Tent 3. As we sat on the deck by the fireplace eating our (chef’s special) cheese toast, Sir Stuart and Lady Ruth Lipton from London weren’t quite sure what to make of our excitement – they hadn’t really heard of African wild dogs and were looking forward to seeing meerkats later on in their safari. But they were soon converted as we stood and watched the pack devour its meal. Barely two days later the dogs were at it again, this time killing on the banks of the Zibadlianja Lagoon by Tent 4, causing Reuben driving his guests on the HES Zib to sail all the way back to camp so that the guests onboard could also enjoy the sighting.
With the end of rainy season the levels in the lagoon have dropped dramatically and while we are still waiting for the annual flood waters to arrive, sightings around camp have altered significantly. Birds in their hundreds are enjoying the fact that fisha re now easier to reach and elephants think that Mother Nature has bestowed upon them a giant swimming pool, frolicking and bathing almost daily.
Last week we were amazed at dinner time to see one lone Cape buffalo who appeared to be jogging along the edge of the lake in the moonlight, and calm as you like deftly avoided the hippos who were leaving the deeper water for their evening graze. Suddenly yesterday, our Swiss German guests saw a herd of 60 buffalo. Wonderful. Lions who have entertained us all month with their cubs have suddenly given way to leopards who – true to form – are appearing at night time, the first a sub-adult who killed a korhaan in Isaac’s spotlight beam, and the second a lone male who we have not seen since this time last year.
My own personal favourite was the battle I witnessed in the dining room between an Angolan green snake and a Foam nest frog. The battle lasted for a full thirty minutes but no victor emerged. The snake relocated its jaw and slinked off as guests returned from the game drive and the stunned frog miraculously came back to life and hopped off to freedom.
Photos by Nick Green