The first drive

Trip Start Jul 23, 2002
Trip End Jul 23, 2003

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Jump on the seats on the back of the ute, and head off down a maze of dirt tracks criss crossing the reserve, through denser bush than I was expecting, and that is what the first drive begins like. And then come the wildlife sightings. Driving through one of the lodges we saw quite a few vervet monkeys running around the buildings. Out in the reserve proper we came across groups of impala, waterbuck and then off to the side there's suddenly a group of three rhinoceros wandering in the bush just near the ute. That required a stop and a photo session as well as a call to the game drives to let them know that there's a good sighting if they want to come and have a look, which, of course, they did. After the rhinoceros had moved off a bit we continued on trying to find the wild dogs which were in the general area, but on the move as they were hunting. We came across one of the pups, but the rest of the pack had moved further on, and had been picked up by the other research group. The other group found them just as they had brought down a bushbuck they'd been chasing. We arrived not that long after and sat watching for a while as they ate their fill. Certainly a good sighting for the first night.

After both the dogs and we were satisfied, we headed off in search of the male leopard which had been heard calling earlier. We tracked the younger male leopard to the area that the call had been heard in, and then went in search of the older male whose territory covers the largest proportion of the reserve. We tracked him along the river and ended up getting to an area we couldn't drive in knowing he wasn't that far away, but far enough to be out of sight. After a bit of a wait, hoping he might appear, we headed off without our leopard sighting for the night - plenty of other opportunities though.

By now it was well and truly dark so we'd been driving around with the spot light on the back of the ute for a while seeing what we could see along the roads. Every now and then you'd catch a glimpse of some eyeshine and have a bit of a look at what it was. If it was one of the antelope, we'd turn the light off quick so as not to damage their eyes. We were looking out for the carnivores more, but caught a glimpse of a bushbaby jumping through the trees, and it just seemed to bounce it's way around the place. So for a first drive around the reserve we saw some cool animals, and am sure to see plenty more on the later drives.
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