Yesterday morning we left the lodge in high spirits. We were on route to track down and view a pair of mating leopards, we knew where they were the night before and so we had a good bearing to start with. However what we got was so much more.
We arrived at the last known place where the pair were seen the night before, we quickly found the exiting tracks and dropped our trackers in order to follow them and work their magic. As we were in the process of dropping them, with engines off, we heard the faint roaring of some lions in the distance. Needless to say we were on a mission to find mating leopards and so I radioed in and gave the update about lions calling in the north east and moved on. I decided to check on the eastern side of the Machaton River, which was nearby, while my college Antony checked the western side. I had just crossed the dry river bed towards the east when Antony radioed to say he had just bumped two male lions. I quickly turned around to go and join him - we may have been tracking leopard but a pair of lions in the hand is...well... exactly that. We had been in the lion sighting for around 5 minutes when we heard some hyenas whooping to the south and few seconds later my tracker Jack, radioed with the very important news that he and his college Ginger had just come across some wild dogs on a kill! Antony quickly began to exit the lion sighting and as he did that one of the males stood up and started walking in the direction of the hyena whooping. I handed over the sighting to the next vehicle in line up and put foot to go and help Antony locate the dogs - which we did on the eastern bank of the river. There they were, having what seemed like classic Wild Dog fun, they even had an impala kill. The radio crackled with an update about the lions moving closer to where we were with the dogs, things started to get exciting (if they didn't some exciting enough already)! Suddenly we saw 2 hyenas high tailing it on the other side of the river and what came as even more of a surprise was the sudden eruption of one very big male lion up the eastern bank of the river and right into the middle of the Wild Dogs! The dogs quickly made way for the lions and their kill was stolen. They moved to a somewhat safe distance and began to chitter and chat loudly in distaste of what the lions had just done before they quickly turned and took off into the bush. Now it may sound easy to keep up with 9 dogs but I can assure it is not! I called the next vehicle in line up and told them to come join me with the dogs as soon as possible and then got going after them, we managed to keep them as they ran through the thick bush and across an open plain where I then conceded my spot to the next vehicle waiting in the wings. I had forgotten all about Jack when he suddenly called me on the radio and told me to look west across the plains, as a big rhino bull was going about his daily business while Jack and Ginger walked past him. BUT what about the leopards?! Well during all the action in the last 15 minutes someone had found them just east of where we were (Jack would have had them, had he had more time!) and so there we went again, peddle to the metal. When we got to the sighting, however, it was not 2 leopards waiting for us but three! The big Tom (Male leopard) seemed to have attracted not one but two females. We got there just as the three were walking off further to the east and over a cutline, sadly we did not see them mating but no one was complaining, not my guests and certainly not me! So with in 45 minutes of starting our morning drive, we had seen 2 lions, 9 wild dogs, 2 hyenas, 1 rhino and 3 leopards. Basically I love my job.