Monthly Archives: April 2009

Hyena Cubs living on the Edge: Video

I had to get a little kick out of bed this morning, my back twisted up in a spasm last night and I was out for the count. Nevertheless, I found myself on route to check up on the Hyena cubs. It is very cold in the morning and I have a recently purchased a balaclava to shield my face from the icy cold wind. The balaclava has aided the coining of a new nickname – Safari Ninja, or “Sninja” for short.

Nature's Masterpiece

I took it easy as not to injure my back any further and got a little side tracked at Sosigi Dam. The cloud above the water is magnified by the golden light of the rising sun and is a masterpiece of nature all on its own. I spent a little time around the dam even though there were no animals to be seen – except the intermittent bobbing eyes of the Hippo that have made it their new home.

The Clan

Eventually, after taking the long way round, I pulled up into the ravine where the Hyena den is situated. Before I reached the den, six adult Hyenas had posted a road block, they regrouped and surrounded the car, but it seems they only wanting to taste my tyres (Yes, those tyres), luckily they didn’t suffer any injury. I would think that one sharp look from a Hyena would puncture those wafer thin sidewalls!

Hyena Distortion

It was an absolute magical time spent watching them sporting around, playing with the cubs, and watching the cubs suckling their mother. I found it incredible how quickly the clan decided that we weren’t a threat and included us in their daily happenings. Even though these Hyenas are completely wild, they show many traits of domestic animals; for example, fighting over sticks, running in circles and chasing each other. The Hyenas made my day!

Matriarch and Cub

A Lizard on the Rocks: Video

I am really happy for the change of season, with the grass turning golden yellow it just breaks the monotone green of the rainy season. The variety of leaf colours also adds that extra depth of colour to the landscape with the cloudless skies bringing out those rich blood red sunsets – it is good to be out in the wild.
Today was one those Impala and Zebra days. I was out scouting for tracks of any Rhino action, but some how ended up with the old popular. This is when I turn to the bird watching, and let me say, one is never left disappointed!

Magpie Shrike

I met up with Alan on my way back this morning and then decided to take a drive with him to check up on the Leopard. Tonga has had an injury and he was out of action for the last week. It’s amazing how these wild animals can pick up massive injuries, but then they just lie in one spot for days and allow it to recover. I only had one glimpse of Tonga this morning, but he looks to be recovering well.

Afternoon Wild Dog Relaxation

I had an amazing time this afternoon with eleven Giraffe drinking at Banyini Pan as the sun slipped over the horizon. It would have been great if there was enough light to get something on film, but that’s how it goes. Also, it is great to sit and watch sometimes, instead of always rushing for the camera.

Giraffe Sky

Buffalo Left Behind: Video

I was on Banyini with a pretty large herd of Buffalo yesterday just before sunset. They were wallowing in the water and lying in the long grass. As the herd began to move on, I saw a shape in the grass. Thinking that it was a dead Impala, I pulled up next to it, only then did I realize that it was a calf that had fallen asleep. It took a minute or so for the little guy to orientate itself. He took a quick smell at the vehicle to make sure it wasn’t it’s mother then took off in the direction of the herd – it was a mother and calf reunion and it was only a moment away (I think I’ve “heard” a song that goes something like that).

Sunrise Malilangwe

The Buffalo herd was also totally oblivious to Manyari watching close by. The lioness was waiting for the sun to go down before she moved in for the kill. I didn’t follow her, but I watched her fade into the shadows to claim her prize.

Sunlight Zebra

This morning was a little unfruitful, but this evening I spotted a herd of Elephant on their way to Banyini Pan. There is a real grumpy old bull in musth that has been giving a few people a scare of late. Regardless, I found myself in the very epicenter of the herd as I judged their arrival at the water. They weren’t worried by my presence at the pan and carried on as normal. Although, things can get a little intimidating with so many Elephants around you.

Elephant Surprise

I also picked up our lion’s tracks heading South into the Mopane woodlands, but they can travel those lands on their own, I’d rather catch them on the flip side.
And, I still haven’t found any Rhinos yet, but will continue on my quest.

Hyena Den: Video

After I heard about the Hyena den that was active, I had to check it out! Kylie and I headed for the den first thing in the morning, it wasn’t very difficult to find and we could even smell it before we spotted it. There are two entrances to the den, one large entrance and another small tunnel, which only the cubs can fit into, this is a state of the art design against larger predators.

Hyena Den

Although, this doesn’t help anything when the cubs are so inquisitive that they come strolling out to find out what all the fuss is about. We didn’t wait long for them to make their appearance.

Hyena Cubs

At first, the male was a little uncomfortable with the cubs strolling around outside the den, but after he had tested the temper of our bull bar, he was happy that we weren’t a threat and they eventually were all playing about around the vehicle – what an awesome moment!

Hyena Cubs 2

Kim was on the dogs today, they effortlessly killed an impala this morning. Then they proceeded to chill out alongside the Chiredzi River for the rest of the day, but Kim is a little worried about them crossing over again. The water level is still pretty high and one has to let the vehicle’s tyres down to get across the river. I’m on a mission to find Black Rhino, I didn’t have any luck today, but I’m hoping to get a list of their last seen locations from the field technician tomorrow.

Hyena Cub

Water Wrestling: Video

We’re all back at Malilangwe and nothing seems to have changed as we look at it from the outside without looking at anything intimately.
I’m back with my daughters for a week, which is the best.
Mark kept you up to date with our travels and the film festival. It was good to catch up with old friends, make new friends and get great interest in the lion, wild dog and elephant films. All is on track to have those finished by the end of the year.

Of course I was anxious to see the dogs and took the girls out in the cold before dawn. They were all snugly wrapped up in their sleeping bags. No such luxury for me.
We picked up the dogs south of Manyuchi still on the hunt but they soon rested up against the hills. Pretty rough country but my trusty Toyota took me all the way. Actually it died on me a couple of times for no reason and just needed a little trick to get it to start again. (For those who know anything about petrol engines, you might have some advice. The car cuts and won’t start. Engine turns over but won’t start. It sparks once and dies. The only thing that sorts this out is: Taking a wire from the battery positive and sparking it on the positive of the ignition coil. Yes it sparks there. And then the car starts first time. Very weird!)
I worried that not having seen the dogs for about 3 weeks now, they would have forgotten about this mad guy that loves to walk with them and they’d bolt just seeing me out the car.
But my anxiety was short lived. Their acceptance of me seems to be the same as where I left off! Puzzles still keeps her distance but the rest of the pack are pretty chilled.

Back on track
In the late afternoon the dogs headed north and straight up to the den they used last year. I wasn’t able to get to them up there by car and didn’t want to disturb anything they were doing at the den. But it sounded like Puzzles was in the den growling and probably cleaning it out. (I only surmise this as I remember the behaviour of the previous Alpha female in the pack that died of rabies, I remember her doing just that when she got to the den.)
I don’t know if Puzzles is pregnant but the fact that she’s doing this at the den is good news. She’s still not showing any signs of her teats developing.
The pack didn’t get up to much else for the rest of the afternoon, but did pass by a hyaena den, hassled them briefly and moved on.
We checked out the den afterwards and saw 2 tiny cubs in one of the holes. Probably only weeks old. Little black guys.

Smoke on the Water: Video

Thankfully, we have arrived back on Malilangwe. It was a long trip, but it’s great to be home.

Wild Dogs, Malilangwe

I’ll be glad to tell a fresh story for a change, instead of something that’s been rehashed. Kim is packed and ready for an early morning start with his two daughters, who have come for the short holiday. I hope the dogs are all okay, they were spotted today on the property so I expect they are carrying on as normal.

Wild Reflection

The grass has died off a little since we left, which makes for easier viewing through the dense vegetation. I guess we’ll see what tomorrow brings, hopefully we keep looking at nature and conservation with our eyes wide open!

Owl Eyes