Kat’s update on lion monitoring in the Kruger National Park for the week 15-20 April 2013:

This week seemed to be promising, with the start of the week based in the office. Wednesday night was the night chosen to go down to Lukimbi, the pride that never allows us to see it. With prayers said we drove down, this night would be different, this night would work out in our favour, I felt it in my hea…rt. Driving down we saw countless rhino and a few suicidal birds. We must have spent 9 hours waiting for Lukimbi to show themselves. I must say my prediction wasn’t looking good, but never despair as at four a.m we took a slow drive up the road to check on what might be happening around us and as we returned to our spot, there they were. 10 lions appeared, each rushing across the road into the river. As sad as it was that they didn’t give us a chance to enjoy their company, it was amazing seeing them. For the past weeks when going out, we have been counting our big five sightings and so far so good. On this day we had all animals sighted but one, the illusive leopard. But if we try and be fair we can kind of count the leopard as seen since we had one vocal as never right in the river bed which was no more than 100m away. Maybe I am cheating but it isn’t often you hear a leopard complementing God’s artistic characterisation of the night Sky. So it is official hahaha, we saw the big five.
Four thirty and we are pumped; it was now time to go. The question was whether to call it a night and head back to Skukuza or dash down to Berg en Dal and push our luck in trying to find the pride there before lion laze rose with the sun. It is quite obvious what our decision would be, this is our crazy life. With Trevor half dead from sleepiness in the passenger seat, hanging on to that last bit of awareness stimulated by our succession, we drove down to chance. As the sun rose, our hope did not set. Finally, with no signal from the collared female, we knew we had found our pride or at least part of it when the signal was changed to a klomp of cars and the dawn filled with camera flashing. As we got closer to the sight, we placed our bets and there we had it, a mating pair lying on the road hardly bothered by the ring of cars around them that created a stage showcasing nature at its best- mating. Outside of this ring of “love” a sub adult male played around in the grass while further up an adult male stretched his legs with a morning walk accompanied by tourists and their cameras. This is what you get when you take a chance. The night couldn’t have gone any better.
Still basking in the previous night’s succession, we drove out in search of N’waswitshaka on Thursday night. The aim was to call them out using a buffalo call as we have not seen them in a while and seriously need an update. In the night’s youth, we were graced with the playful presence of a different type of predator- wild dogs. They played all over the road as they kept feeding on a scrub hare. We carried on with our mission but the lions had other intentions. The night ended off with some scary winds and no lions. Despite the missing lions, this was a good week indeed.

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