Monday, 27th February 2012
At King's Pool (I noted Wilderness Safaris don't seem to use the apostrophe), morning wake-up call comes at 5.30 a.m. and you are collected at 6.0 a.m. Walking to the main building complex, I could see that it was lighter than on previous days at that hour. Good weather seemed in prospect. I had a light 'Early Breakfast' and was ready to depart at 6.30 a.m.
It took me some time to complete this post, but it goes along the lines of "Jan looks at a lot of animals and birds".
There were three Land Rover lined up when we left - two of them were to accommodate a group of travel agents who'd arrived the previous afternoon. They had their own programme which included a visit by road to Savuti Camp. Od took the American couple and the writer to find more game. Our track came to a triangular junction where a family of Warthogs (male, female, four young) were just coming out of the 'side road'. They walked ahead of us for some distance, completely unconcerned at our presence. We followed them slowly, until they turned off our route and took a smaller track leading through the Bush.
We came across a couple of male Impala 'sparring' but it seemed rather ritualised and they soon disengaged. Nearby, there were about fifteen female Impala. Next, we found another family of Warthogs on the move, this time displaying "Follow me" with their tails. A number of birds were by a tranquil Pan, including what I think was a Tawny Eagle, keeping watch from high in a dead tree. I managed to get a few shots of a male Common Waterbuck displaying the distinctive broad white ring on the rump. Then we passed group of three Ostrich, hurrying about their business, the single male with black plumage, the two females with grey.
Somehow, Od spotted a Leopard Tortoise almost invisible lying in the sun-spattered grass. As we moved on, we saw four more Ostrich. Od had been driving towards a group of Vultures which could see circling lazily high in the sky. Near a fallen tree, there were a number of Vultures on the ground, feeding on an at first unrecognisable carcass. It appeared to be an Impala and Od suggested that it was most probably a Leopard kill from earlier in the day. Having eaten what he could, he'd probably dragged the remains near to the fallen tree, with a view to returning later. But the scavengers had spotted the carcass and, in their feeding frenzy, were efficiently disposing of the remains. Od pointed out that this prevented flesh from becoming rotten and helped to prevent the spread of disease. A Bateleur, an eagle with a stocky appearance and a short tail, watched the proceedings from a nearby tree as the various Vultures justled around the carcass.
We left the Vultures to it and carried on, to stop again at a Mudhole where a family of Warthogs were plastering themselves liberally. Do you remember the Flanders and Swann lyric (not dedicated to Warthogs) "Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud, Nothing quite like it for cooling the Blood...". It may look amusing to see Warthogs streaked in mud but, of course, they adopt the practice for strictly practical reasons.
We were on our way back to Camp now. We paused to watch a group of about twenty Impala and watch the antics of a nearby troop of Chacma baboon before arriving back at King's Pool, ready for our Brunch.
In the late afternoon, we set off once again with our guide Od to see what animals could be seen. On a broad plain, we came upon a family group of elephants, contentedly grazing. I never tire of watching elephants. They are improbable-looking creatures but, like most species in the wild, radiate a natural dignity. Although such large animals are capable of wreaking considerable havoc if so minded, they generally appear quite peaceable. My reaction is normally one of wonderment, not fear.
It's the variety of wildlife and the juxtaposition of different species that I found so impressive in the Okavango. Soon after watching the elephants, we came upon a female Common Waterbuck with her single youngster.
As we passed through a wetter area, we spotted a Water Monitor, with its elongated snout, scurrying through the grass. Od decided to return to the area where we'd watched the vultures in the morning. The birds had moved on and only a few bones and a little fur remained.
Od was now following recent lion tracks and shortly after passing a group of giraffe, we found three lions stretched out and enjoying the afternoon sun. They took no interest in the approach of our Land Rover - yawning seemed to be their most pressing concern.
After a few minutes, the older lioness stretched, got up and set off along the track we were on. The other two lions followed. They appeared in no great hurry as we slowly followed.
After walking for about ten minutes, the lions lay down again - this time right in the middle the track. We watched, fascinated, for some time but it was clear that the lions though it was still far to warm to do other than occasionally move a few feet to find a different spot to relax.
Od turned the vehicle round and we set off back towards the Camp. The encounter with the three lions had lasted three quarters of an hour. Od took us to the river bank for the 'Sundowner' drink, passing a group of Chacma Baboons on the way. It was just after 7.00 p.m. and getting dark as we stood on the river bank, carefully watched from the other side of the river by a single hippopotamus, almost submerged in the water. Then it was back to Camp and prepare for our evening meal.