What an amazing night!!! Within the first minutes out of camp we spotted two hyenas. They were actually at the same place we had seen them previously. Only this time the cubs came out to play. JP estimated that the dark colored cubs were about 4 months old (their coloring will come in by the time they are 6 months old) & the older ones about 8 months old; the pairs were likely twins. There are 2 cubs in each litter of cubs. Like I said before the hyena gang is run by a single queen. If she had two female cubs one will kill the other within the first month of their life. You see they are born knowing they will be queen & when the female twins are born, they know only one of them can rule. And they kill the other one off early.
Next JP spotted a group of lionesses lounging in the shade. This group was made up of two youngsters; the others were much older. They really are almost unphased by having landys around them & people snapping pictures. Once in a while they will pick up their head & have a look at you but other than that, they just lie around.
From the lions JP & Sam thought it would be best for us to head down the river bed in hopes of finding the leopard. Well we didn’t find her but on the way there we saw a herd of wildebeest. You can see there is one baby in pictures, just about running out on the left hand side. He is no more than a week old. We did see a lone elephant in the river bed having a drink. He saw us coming & took off up the bank but came back down after a few minutes. Elephants are quite smart in that instead of drinking the water directly from the watering hole they dig a hole next to it & let it fill up with water. This ensures that the water they are getting has been filtered by the sand.
Shortly after leaving the riverbed we got a call on the radio saying the leopard had been found. We went flying down the road to get to her. That was the fastest we’ve gone in the landy & I have to say it was quite a lot of fun to be on the hunt. Turns out we didn’t really need to rush, she wasn’t going anywhere – just lounging in the tree with an audience. She was beautiful & likely the same leopard that dragged the duiker up in the tree that we saw yesterday. She is one of two female leopards that “rule” Kruger; her & the other one have pretty much split the park in two. Leopards are loners. The only occasions they are together is to mate or a mother with a cub. Females choose their territory based on the availability of food & water while males choose their territory based on the females, knowing there will be food & water.
We let the leopard be & went find a good spot to have a drink. As soon as we stopped it started to thunder & lightening. HUGE, beautiful streaks of lightening. After our drinks we started heading back to the camp & encountered our first night sighting!! Another group of 4 female lions, hanging out in the middle of the road. As you can see in the pictures, as soon as a nocturnal animal is sighted Sam puts a red filter on the light – very obvious in the pictures. These ladies just sat & stared at us for a bit. When we started to drive around them they got up to move.
We also saw a rino right outside camp. We were on our way to the end of the air strip to watch the lightening when a rino trouted along in front of us. He was into the bushes before I was able to get a picture. When we got back to the camp, we were surprised to find our camp lit up by lanterns & the table in front set for dinner, complete with a bottle of champagne. Really lovely.