I’ve been lucky enough over the past couple of weeks to see some pretty special things, so I thought I’d diverge briefly from wild dogs and lions and post a few photos of other things I have seen recently.
This python is known to be about 3.5m long. We found her sunning herself in a somewhat uncomfortable-looking position (!) when we were driving spoor surveys the other day.
Check out that forked tongue!
A few days before this, we’d been lucky enough to see a group of 5 cheetah on the road as we headed to the south of the Save Valley Conservancy very early one morning. It looked like a mum and 4 subadult cubs. Of course the first thing we saw was this:
But then curiosity got the better of a couple of the youngsters and they stopped to watch us for a while. Cheetahs are very rare in Save Valley, so this was a real treat for us.
As was seeing these crested guinefowl, which we spotted on our last trip to Gonarezhou. These are also very uncommon, and are wonderfully entertaining birds to watch!
So, always a lot to be looking out for on our endless wild dog searches!
Just a quick post this time (and apologies but no photos!), as I am flat out with the carnivore spoor survey. We’ve been starting at 5:00 every day to get to the start of the transects in time for sunrise when we begin driving slowly along the roads. The trackers scan for spoor and we record any fresh carnivore tracks we see – however big or small.
We are finding a lot of evidence of lions and hyenas, supporting our belief that the populations of these two higher carnivores are increasing considerably in the conservancy. Good for their numbers but bad for wild dogs with whom they will compete for prey and even kill the pups…
Leopard numbers are good but we have seen virtually no sign of cheetah. I’ll let you know more when we’ve finished and got some firmer results. In the meantime, I just wanted to let you know why we are a bit quieter than normal here…
Rueben and I have just come back from Gonarezhou having completed the first half of the spoor survey we were doing there. It was hard work and involved lots of driving, but was well worth it – it’s such a beautiful place. We picked up evidence of good populations of spotted hyenas and leopards, but very few lion tracks and not very many wild dog tracks either. We even picked up some cheetah spoor which was exciting, as I’m told cheetah are not often seen in the park.
We drove spoor transects in both the morning and evenings on most days – when the sun is at the best angle to see the tracks in the sand – and then just camped out where we ended up or where we wanted to start the next day. A wonderful opportunity, and magical to lie in a tent and listen to the sounds of the bush all around: elephants splashing through the river, hyenas making a kill, nightjars singing and owls hooting.
Elephant tracks crossing the dry river
As always, the scenery was stunning….
and the wildlife was special. (Nyala calf)
We were also lucky enough to see several herds of buffalo, elephants, hyenas on two separate occasions, and even a flash of a pair of leopards running across the road! The birdlife is awesome too.
Although we didnt see any of them, the tracks we saw suggested the park also has good numbers of the smaller carnivores – civets, genets, porcupines, wild cats and even aardwolves. Maybe we’ll get lucky during the next stage of the survey.
We’re off back to the park on Sunday, so the blog will once again be quiet for a while…