This entry focuses on the animals I photographed on day two of my visit. After being lucky enough to see a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl the previous afternoon, I was again lucky to see another at a distance in the dawn light. It made a nice silhouette against the rosy-fingered African dawn.
As the sun rose, we encountered a breeding herd of giraffes. The young seemed odd to me as they obviously had yet to grow their necks to the wonderfully ridiculous length we are all used to. The second image here features a bird known as an oxpecker working to remove small insects and ticks from the hide of this adult giraffe.
From one of the largest of the African animals, we drove on to discover the smallest of Africa’s carnivores – the Dwarf Mongoose. These adorable little fellas live in matriarchal colonies centered on abandoned termite mounds that they use for shelter and as lookout posts.
This next sighting was a great thrill for me as it was my very first wild cheetah sighting of my three safaris! This female was moving from termite mound to termite mound in hopes of scanning the surrounding area for potential prey. Since it was getting later in the morning, she was not having much luck. However, it did provide the chance for her to pose for me as if she was a feline supermodel!
To make the day complete, during our afternoon drive, we came across a pride of four lions – an adult lioness and her three young offspring (two females and a male) as they were stalking a herd of impala. The images of this pride show how well these tawny colored lions can be camouflaged against the winter grasses in South Africa. Despite their best efforts, the impala were able to spot them before the lions could sneak close enough to launch an attack. While the lions have a great deal of stealth, they are unsuccessful in the vast majority (approx. 80%) of their hunting attempts.
The day concluded with a brilliant sunset and a ride back to the lodge in the dark using a bright spotlight to alter us to the presence of nocturnal animals. We were lucky to catch brief glimpses of more mongooses, some bush babies, and a small nocturnal cat called a serval.
A delicious meal in the boma followed by local tribal singing and dancing rounded out the evening before bed called my name as the African morning comes awfully early at 5:00 am the next morning!